In Knoxville, oral accounts from local area residents note the Eighth of August as, “The one day of the year when black people could go to Chilhowee Park and enjoy a great day of celebration!”
In keeping with Emancipation Day or the Day of Freedom, in Knoxville, Chilhowee Park was only open to African Americans one day a year, August 8, and this continued until 1948.
While history records that on January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation declared that all slaves held in locations in conflict with the United States were henceforth free, Tennessee Military Governor, Andrew Johnson, freed his personal slaves on August 8, 1863. This date became known as Emancipation Day throughout the region and annual celebrations, dating back to as early as 1871 in Greenville Tennessee, have taken place in recognition of this significant date in our nation’s history.
In April of 2007, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed House Bill No. 207 into law, officially noting that, “August 8 of each year shall be observed as “Emancipation Day,” to be proclaimed as such by the governor, to honor and recognize the celebration of the action of Andrew Johnson in freeing his personal slaves on August 8, 1863, and the significance of emancipation in the history of Tennessee.”
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Beck Cultural Exchange Center
1927 Dandridge Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37915
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Our museum is open during the following hours:
Tuesday - Saturday
10:00AM - 6:00PM
In the event of inclement weather we operate on the Knox County School Schedule. Please See knoxschools.org.
You are welcome to take a Self-Guided Tour anytime during our Business Hours
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