“Slaves no more—but free men forever.”

Celebrating the history of manumission, emancipation, and Juneteenth in North Carolina

North Carolina has a rich tradition of celebrating freedom even before Juneteenth, the federally recognized holiday that honors the day when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news of the end of the Civil War and slavery in the United States. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation provided a pathway to freedom for enslaved African Americans in Union-occupied areas like Beaufort, Elizabeth City, Plymouth, and New Bern. Emancipation Day celebrations in North Carolina began as early as January 1, 1864. This exhibit highlights records of freedom in North Carolina: from pre-Civil War manumission petitions to late 19th century Emancipation Day celebrations, through to modern celebrations of Juneteenth.