April 17, 2009

Fenty seeks to eliminate D.C. holiday

Four years after being signed into law, Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C., still surprises visitors who find city offices closed for the holiday.

The holiday was signed into law by former Mayor Anthony Williams to commemorate April 16, the day in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln freed the city's 3,000 slaves.

However, current Mayor Adrian Fenty proposes eliminating the day next year to save about $2 million in holiday pay to critical workers -- and stirring concern among the city's activists who say Emancipation Day is a reminder of the city's history, The Washington Post reported Friday.

It is politically disrespectful for Mayor Fenty to eliminate a day that has been important to the people who have spent generations in the city and have built this city, Dominic Moulden, executive director of ONE DC, a community organizing group, told the Post. Emancipation is the only holiday that honors the enslaved Africans in D.C.

Fenty said the day we were freed as slaves will always be a day to commemorate and that the city's government will find new ways to draw attention to Lincoln's action.