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Emancipation Day: 1905

Emancipation Day: 1905

April 3, 1905. Richmond, Virginia. "Emancipation Day." See news item below. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


Inauguration of Colored President Part of the Ceremony.

        Richmond, Va., April 3 -- Thousands of Negroes observed Emancipation Day in Virginia to-day. The occasion resulted in an outpouring of the race never before equaled, armed with miniature United States flags and attended by brass bands.

        In addition, there was a unique feature to-night, the inauguration of a colored President. At True Reformers' Hall the interior of the White House was reproduced, and all the ceremonies incident to the induction of a Chief Magistrate into office were gone through with.

        To-day was also the fortieth anniversary of the evacuation of Richmond by the Confederate forces and the partial destruction of the city by fire. (Washington Post, April 4, 1905.)


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Jim Crow is a-waitin'

The light skinned participants might be white pro-abolitionists, or, what was referred to in those days as 'High-yella', those whose ancestry made them less than septaroons, verifiably less than one sixteenth negro, and consequently able to 'pass' as white. It is a shameful legacy that we still employ, branding anyone of the lightest discernible African tint as colored. Partly black is black, while partly white is still black. "Free in body my brothers, but our souls are still in chains", those words still have relevance today.

Attorneys Looking Out The Window

Attorneys Shelton and Atkinson looking out of their second story offices probably are celibrating celebrating with champiagn Champagne, knowing these people mean money in the bank from defending them (or prosecuting them). You know there is going to be some kind of lawbreaking going on with these people. There always is. Will the defendant please rise. ($$$)

Also, on ground level the photographer with his box camera and bodygaurd bodyguard can be seen keeping an eye out for troublemakers. Which probably was not that hard to find. I hope they were safe and un-harmed.

[What a dope. - Dave]

10th and Main downtown

Virginia Commonwealth University's Rarely Seen Richmond puts this location at 10th and Main Streets with the Shafer Building at the corner and the old Custom House and Richmond Post Office in the background. The page also links to a photo of a somewhat different parade at the same street corner.

Where was this photo shot

I have been trying to figure out exactly where (street/block) this photo was shot. The "John I Williams" bankers and brokers business in the background were apparently at 112 E Main Street at some time (according to court records) but the National Park Service says this image was taken in Jackson Ward, on the other side of town. Given the segregation of the time, I suspect this march was in Jackson Ward, "the Harlem of the south". Unfortunately, it seems that most of the original 1905 buildings in both areas are demolished today.

There were street car lines both on Main as well as 1st and 5th (which passed through Jackson Ward).

[This is somewhere in the main business district downtown. John L. (not I.) Williams was a prominent brokerage firm. The National Bank of Virginia is on the right. - Dave]

Great Picture

This picture suggests the wonderful hidden history of African Americans in the time after the Civil War. It's remarkable to think that for these people about as much time had passed since the end of the Civil War as has passed for us since the fall of Saigon. It's interesting to consider what memories and stories they were carrying with them.

Hello! Mark Gooch!

Awesome to run into a fellow Birmingham person on here! I grew up outside of Birmingham, in a little community called West Jefferson. I lived, as a child, about 4 miles from where Shorpy worked. I was fascinated and attempting to explore all the abandoned mining works around at the age Shorpy would've actually been working in them. (I also had a substitute teacher in elementary school with the last name of Higginbotham. I only had her once or twice, I believe she was retired. An amazing woman, very stern.)

This website is a continual source of inspiration and diversion for me. Like Mark, I have been drawn to the photographers he mentions since I can remember, and they inspired me to get an undergraduate degree in photography. I'm studying architecture in Texas now, and use these amazing images in my presentations from time to time as examples of good spaces lost, or to get at that piercing nag that historical images have.

This image is powerful to me not only because it foreshadows the groundswell that was civil rights, but also because I'm from a place that saw so much of that struggle. I am proud to be from this conflicted place, and I only hope that the progress continues. Emancipation Day should be a national holiday.

Times Change

'Inauguration of Colored President.' The writer of that headline would never have dreamt in a million years that it would actually come to fruition. And cheering Dixie? Deep irony or carried away in the moment.

Cheering Dixie?

Richmond Times Dispatch, Apr 4, 1905

Celebration of Day of Freedom

Negroes Cheered "Dixie" on
Their Emancipation Anniversary.

Nearly every colored man, woman and child in Richmond, and the surrounding territory, took part in or viewed the big emancipation parade yesterday.

The crowd was orderly and was the subject of favorable comments from all who saw the line as it passed along to the music of several bands. The parade consumed something like twenty minutes in passing a given point, and was made up of various negro clubs and societies. An amusing incident was the cheering of "Dixie" on this occasion.

After the principal streets of the city had been marched over, the crowds centered in the ball park, where the orators addressed the multitude on the subject most in mind. The principal speaker was D. Webster Davis, whose oration was loudly applauded. Rev. T.A. Green was the other speaker. During the speaking a board on the bleachers broke and caused a little excitement, but no one was hurt.

Last night there was a banquet of the leaders at Price's Hall, and at True Reformer's Hall a colored opera company held forth. The colored hotels and boarding houses were full to overflowing with excursionists and the ward was a dense mass of people all day and far into the night.

The thousands of local colored people on the streets were augmented by many from the country, who, in their gay rigs, added to the general interest in the parade. Old donkeys, with ante-bellum beards, marched beside negroes of the younger generation, and cooks, waiters, porters, washerwomen and barbers knocked off from work to join in the festivities incidental to the celebration of the day that really marks the fall of Richmond rather then the negroes' emancipation.

Birthday greetings from Shorpy's Hometown!

Happy Continuance Day! I hope you continue for many years to come. I'm a professional photographer in Birmingham, Alabama. This is the proud home of Shorpy Higginbotham.

I'm like so many of your fans, I start my day looking at this site. I have for three years. I've been a fans of Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, Russell Lee, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein, for most of my life. I even got to meet and visit with Rothstein once. It is such a privilege to view your photo offerings.

The picture above is very special to me. I grew-up in Columbus, Mississippi. Emancipation Day was celebrated on May 8. In Columbus this was known as "8 of May Day". I was always under the impression that May 8 was when the news of Emancipation reached Mississippi.

This site is such a gift. Thank You.

A particularly stylish woman

A particularly stylish woman on the sidewalk next to the building on right caught my eye. Is she there with the man on her right and the three(?) children on her left?

What are the white men up in the law offices thinking? Who are the various white men among the crowd? Just passersby? Plainclothes? Any possibility they're actually participating/ celebrating?

Yes you can.

Although none of those marching in this image would live to see it, I wish we could reach back and tell them that one day, it would happen. That today a black man is president of their country.

A bit grim...

For all that this is a commemoration/celebration, there seem to be more serious faces than not. Interesting that they had an inauguration! It was a 104 year early dress rehearsal, apparently.

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