O Freedom!

Afro-American Emancipation Celebrations

  • Author(s): Wiggins, Jr., William H.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1990-11-08
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $24.95 | Buy Now


This lively account traces the evolution of emancipation celebrations from early slave festivals to twentieth-century offshoots like Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day.

“. . . a lucid and interesting account of the numerous ‘Emancipation Day’ holidays long celebrated by black Americans. . . . readable, interesting, useful, and important.”
–S. Cresswell, Choice

“This is an engaging study of a significant yet neglected aspect of American social, cultural, and political history.”
–Michael Kammen, New York History

“Basing his analysis on fieldwork and solid historical research, Wiggins gives a vivid portrayal of a celebration of ethnic pride in all its diversity. Though varied over time and space, the celebratory message of freedom from slavery comes through clearly. Activities–singing, dancing, speechmaking–are described. Interesting illustrations, posters, programs, buttons, photographs–support this intimate, carefully produced book.”
–David S. Azzolina, Library Journal

“Wiggins has combined painstaking research and detailed interviews with a relaxed, readable writing style to produce a richly textured and fascinating account of a little-known slice of Americana.”
–Martha Southgate

” . . . a valuable contribution to Afro-American history . . . . describes the author’s thousands of miles of travel . . . . in order to understand the emancipation celebrations and to capture the different flavors of celebrations from Texas to Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Georgia. The account of his travels is lively, inviting, scholarly, and earthy. His research and writing point to an obvious conclusion: emancipation celebrations are alive and well.”
–G. W. Reid, North Carolina Historical Review