TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Churches around Alabama are observing
Watch Night, joining a nationwide celebration of freedom officially
granted to thousands of black people on New Year's Day 147 years
Betty Lawson is superintendent of Sunday school at First African
Baptist Church and says Watch Night is a tradition in the black
Watch Night is also known as Freedom's Eve and refers to Dec.
31, 1862, when black slaves gathered to await the arrival of Jan.
On that day, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the
Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that slaves in 10
Confederate states were free.
About 20,000 slaves were freed that day but slavery remained
legal in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri as well as New
Orleans, numerous parishes in Louisiana, Tennessee and 48 counties
Information from: The Tuscaloosa News,
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)