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Contact: Mark Ard
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Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee Invites the Public to Celebrate 20th of May–Emancipation in Florida


Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee invites the public to celebrate 20th of May–Emancipation in Florida on Thursday, May 20, 2021. This annual event recognizes the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on May 20, 1865 in Tallahassee, Florida, two years after the proclamation was first issued by President Abraham Lincoln. The commemoration is a joint effort between the Knott House Museum and the John G. Riley Museum.

“The 20th of May–Emancipation in Florida observance helps us come together as a community to commemorate this significant day in history,” said Secretary Lee. “It is important to remember and celebrate this pivotal event that brought freedom to all Floridians.”

Immediately after the US Civil War, Union Brigadier General Edward M. McCook was staying at the Hagner house, the structure now known as the Knott House. The responsibility fell to General McCook to announce the Proclamation. Both presenting museums welcome all to join the online celebration of this historic event. The virtual program will be hosted at and on Facebook at  The program features remarks by Secretary Lee and Dr. Aron Myers, director of the Riley Museum. A dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation will be presented by community leaders from across the state. The premiere of a new documentary Freedom Drumming will end the event.

Additionally, the John G. Riley Museum and the City of Tallahassee will host a Civil War Grave Decorating Commemorative Service at 9:30 a.m. This program dates from the 1880s and is held at the Old City Cemetery, on Martin Luther King Boulevard between Park Avenue and Call Street. There is limited public access, but the ceremony may be viewed at

For additional information on 20th of May–Emancipation in Florida and a full list of community events and activities associated with the commemoration, visit

20th of May–Emancipation in Florida sponsors include the City of Tallahassee; Council on Culture and the Arts; Friends of the Museums of Florida History, Inc.; Hopping, Green & Sams, P.A.; and Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency. It is also sponsored in part by the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

About the Knott House Museum

The Knott House Museum is located at 301 East Park Avenue, at the corner of Park Avenue and Calhoun Street, Tallahassee, Florida. The historic site is currently closed for construction but may be toured online at The Knott House Museum is part of the Florida Department of State’s Museum of Florida History in the Division of Historical Resources.

Please call 850.922.2459 or email [email protected] for more information.