Emancipation Saturday: An Appalachian Tradition

You’ve heard of Juneteenth, but what about Emancipation Saturday? This Freedom Stories discussion explores this lesser-known Appalachian emancipation celebration. The distinguished panel features Black in Appalachia founder, William Isom; author and scholar, Dr. Cicero Fain of the University of Southern Maryland; and Jasmine Henderson, a spoken word artist residing in Johnson City, Tennessee. The panel is moderated by Freedom Stories Project Director Dr. Alicestyne Turley. Together, we’ll learn the history behind the celebration, including the role that President Andrew Johnson played in Emancipation Saturday and the celebration’s spread throughout Central Appalachia.

Closed Captioning is available by clicking the “CC” button on the bottom right of the screen.




William Isom, II
William Isom II is a 6th generation East Tennessean and Director of Community Outreach at East Tennessee PBS in Knoxville. As the director of the Black in Appalachia Project for...


Jasmine Henderson
Jasmine Henderson serves as a board member and recording secretary for Umoja Unity Committee, a nonprofit organization focused on bridging diverse cultures through education and artistic presentations in East Tennessee....


Dr. Cicero M. Fain, PhD
Dr. Fain is a third-generation black Huntingtonian. He is the recipient of the Carter G. Woodson Fellowship from Marshall University and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from The...

Hear from local historian Gene Maddox as he recounts the oral history of Emancipation Saturday, and view highlights from a modern-day Emancipation Saturday celebration.

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