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Emancipation Days aims to educate, unify - KOAM TV 7

Emancipation Days aims to educate, unify

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Joplin's Emancipation Park Days celebration takes place annually the first weekend of August to celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves.

Event organizers have put an increased emphasis on the event being a family affair and an educational experience to those who flock to Ewert Park.

"In history, it served more of a purpose for the black community: that was the need that needed to be met during segregation. Now the need is to bring people together and to improve race relations so now it's about unifying in our differences," Dola Flake, event vice-chair said.

Flake collected photos, newspaper articles and facts to paint a visual picture on four wooden displays of what Joplin looked like before, during and after segregation. The boards were on display at Emancipation Days.

Emancipation Days is held at Ewert Park because the park was donated for use to the black community when African-Americans weren't allowed elsewhere. The committee aims to preserve that tradition.

"This generation has no idea why we come in the park on the first weekend of August to celebrate that. So we're trying to get that culture back," Cheryl Fields, event assistant treasurer said.

With race-relations on the forefront of many minds, Emancipation Days aims to unify.

"It serves the purpose the community needs at that time. Before, it really was a place for the African-American community to unite, and now it's more of a time for us to come together as a whole community and unify in our diversity," Flake said.

Participants enjoyed a weekend of activities and cultural experiences, many stopping by the history boards to check out the compelling photographs.

"People say racism is not real but it is, and it still is, not as prevalent as it used to be but it's still there. So we want people to understand that we're trying to get that family back to our communities and get everyone back together so we can make sure everything's working in Joplin, Missouri," Fields said.

The boards will be on display at the community center at First and Main.

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