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Contact: Mark Ard
[email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: Secretary of State Cord Byrd Invites the Public to Celebrate 20th of May—Emancipation in Florida


Secretary of State Cord Byrd invites the public to celebrate 20th of May—Emancipation in Florida at the Knott House Museum on Saturday, May 20, 2023, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 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 Center & Museum.

The 20th of May is an important day in Florida’s history and cannot be forgotten,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “The commemoration of this pivotal event allows us to come together as a community in the spirit of celebration, history, and freedom.”



Immediately after the American Civil War, Union Brigadier General Edward M. McCook was staying at the Hagner House, the historic house now known as the Knott House Museum. The responsibility fell to General McCook to announce the Proclamation. Each year since 1997, both presenting museums welcome all to join the celebration of this historical event.

The program will include remarks from Secretary Byrd and Dr. Aron Myers, Executive Director of the John G. Riley Center & Museum. There will also be a musical performance by the Mina String Quartet from the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, a historical portrayal of Frederick Douglass by reenactor John Anderson, a dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a free lunch in Lewis Park.

Additionally, the John G. Riley Center & Museum and the City of Tallahassee will host a Civil War Grave Decorating Commemorative Service at 10:00 a.m. This tradition dates from the 1880s and is held annually at Old City Cemetery, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Park Avenue and Call Street.

The 20th of May—Emancipation in Florida is part of a month-long celebration that includes a number of events and free admission to numerous historic sites. For additional information and a full list of community events and activities associated with the annual commemoration, visit

20th of May—Emancipation in Florida sponsors include the City of Tallahassee; Friends of the Museums of Florida History, Inc.; and the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency. It is also sponsored in part by the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, Division of Arts and Culture, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.




About 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 house museum 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.