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Breaking Down Joplin Emancipation Park Day's History - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Breaking Down Joplin Emancipation Park Day's History

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

The annual Emancipation Celebration.. also known as Park Days.. is underway in Joplin - and over it's century of celebrating - it's undergone a fair amount of change.

Gospel music.. good food.. a car show.. and family and friends.. all a part of park days in Ewert park. 

Travis Gooden, Arizona Resident :"This is a special occasion."

Travis Gooden has attended the celebration for more than 20 years.. and remembers what the event was like back when he was young. 

Gooden:"You know, at that time, it was more about fun and seeing people you hadn't seen in forever, without really partaking  of the history of what this all means to everybody."

And that history.. is what Dola Flake with the Emancipation Celebration Committee wants the event to emphasize. 

Dola Flake, Emancipation Celebration Committee:"Emancipation Celebration has been happening in Joplin for over a hundred years. We have documentation back to at least 1914, so we don't have the exact date, but we know it's been happening for a very long time." 

But, let's rewind for a minute.. the event celebrates the freedom of slaves in Joplin, that happened in August of 1865.. Two years after president Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in 1863.

Flake:"It took a little while for that news to get to Missouri, so we actually celebrate later than a lot of places."

And many of those celebrations were very well received.. but.. 

Gooden:"It went really well for years.. the crowds were great. and then it seems like, it just kind of started to die off."

That is, until a few years ago when the Emancipation Celebration Committee started to revive the event.. and they made sure to leave it in Ewert park, which plays a significant role in the events history. 

Flake:"This park was designated for African Americans during segragation..it was the only park they could go to. So there's a strong history here."

The celebration was originally intended just for African Americans in the area. But, the committee has helped change that, so it's more inclusive to everyone."

Flake:"Sharing the history that we do here at Emancipation Celebration is very important. Knowing where we came from helps us do better in our future, but it also really helps us understand each other a little better, and I think that promotes unity."

Spreading that history.. especially with the younger generation.. is something Gooden hopes will continue to make a difference in the area. 

Gooden:"We're hoping that we can educate the youth, and have them see how blessed of a life they have. We've gotta have somebody to take that baton, and take the next hurdle, and take this on so that it goes on for decades after decades after decades."
 

Emancipation Park Days continues through Sunday morning, with church in the park at 9 a.m., and free swimming at Ewert Aquatic Center from 1 to 3 p.m. 

If you would like to learn more about Joplin Emancipation, follow this link: https://www.joplinemancipation.com/

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