The Emancipation Proclamation was implemented by President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago in January 1863. Essex County College (ECC) will observe this important anniversary with an all-day conference Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the main Newark campus on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Presented by the college’s Humanities Division, the conference will focus on the theme of Emancipation: The Meaning of Freedom, from 1863 to 21st Century iterations of liberation and freedom. The event, in which both fulltime and adjunct faculty in the division are participating in a series of panel discussions, will be held from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Smith Hall. A screening of the 2012 PBS film Slavery by Another Name will follow the conference.
The film, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon, features ECC student Raymond Spencer as Ezekial Archey. Spencer will introduce the film. English Department faculty member Rebecca Williams, a self-proclaimed lover of history, is spearheading the effort.
That march featured the famed “I Have a Dream’ speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Williams was involved in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the march as the now former Educational Program Director for the Historical Society of Plainfield where she resides.
The conference has been meant to focus on the meaning of emancipation 150 years after implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. It will also cover how was “freedom” articulated in the 19th century and what is meant when people talk of “freedom.”
ECC Acting Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Stephanie A. Steplight Johnson will kick off the event at 9 a.m. with an address on emancipation. A series of faculty led panel discussions, starting at 10 a.m., will follow.
The afternoon sessions will include a roundtable discussion on emancipation as a keyword a poetry readings.
The conference is co-sponsored by the College’s Associate degree Africana Studies Program and the Community College Humanities Association. The conference is free and open to the public.