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Washington, D.C. Emancipation Day: 150 Years Later

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Emancipation Act, which freed Washington, D.C.'s 3,128 slaves. This came nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to slaves in only parts of the Confederacy still in rebellion.

Yet, as the city celebrates a monumental anniversary, there seems to be a feeling of uneasiness permeating many Black D.C. residents, as the city affectionately known as the "Chocolate City" has become increasingly less brown in the past couple of decades. Gentrification and the exodus of many Blacks to the nearby suburbs have been the main factors behind this change. 

​And, while D.C. may be just one city, the changes taking place there tend to mirror what's going on in other major metropolitan areas. Perhaps these changes are organic, a natural part of the country's evolution. But, if working class and poor Blacks continue to be forced out of the nation's capital — the place that's supposed to best represent America's ideals — this direction can't be a positive one.

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