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

Tallahassee, Fla. –

Secretary of State Cord Byrd invites the public to celebrate 20th of May—Emancipation in Florida at the Knott House Museum on Monday, May 20, 2024, 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. Since 1997, the commemoration has been a joint effort between the Knott House Museum and the John G. Riley Center & Museum.

Celebrating the 20th of May as Emancipation Day is a long-held tradition in Tallahassee and other parts of Florida,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “Especially during the Capital City’s bicentennial year, this annual commemoration allows us to come together as a community in the spirit of celebration, history, and freedom.”

Commemorative events include a Civil War Grave Decorating Service—a tradition that started in the Reconstruction era—at Old City Cemetery, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between Park Avenue and Call Street, starting at 10:00 a.m. Following the conclusion of the cemetery service, at 11:30 a.m., the public is invited to Lewis Park, in front of the Knott House Museum, located at 301 East Park Avenue, in Tallahassee, Florida, for remarks from dignitaries, historical reenactments, musical performances, a dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a free picnic lunch. The May 20 programs are free and open to the public.

20th of May—Emancipation in Florida is part of a month-long celebration that includes several special events and free admission to historic sites. For additional information and a full list of community events and activities associated with this year’s commemoration, visit

20th of May—Emancipation in Florida sponsors include the City of Tallahassee, the Friends of the Museums of Florida History, Inc., and the Ausley Family. 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.