Emancipation Day in Mississippi Date in the current year: May 8, 2024

Emancipation Day in Mississippi Emancipation Day, also known as Juneteenth, is a U. S. federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. However, some states and even cities also observe their own Emancipation Day on other dates. For example, Emancipation Day in Columbus, Mississippi is celebrated on May 8.

At the time the Civil War started, the great majority of African Americans in Mississippi were plantation slaves. While some had been born in the state, a considerable number of slaves had been forcibly brought to the Deep South through domestic slave trade.

There were no slave revolts in Mississippi, but some slaves resisted by working too slowly on purpose or breaking equipment and tools. Some tried to escape, but returned after hiding out for several weeks or were captured and returned by force. However, a handful did make it to the North. Some Mississippian slaves worked on riverboats and had a quasi-free status.

By 1820, Mississippi had over 450 former slaves that had been freed from slavery. Their lives were severely restricted compared to the white population. For example, free blacks were required to carry identification at all times, were prohibited from carrying weapons, and didn’t have the right to vote.

In 1822, having decided that they didn’t want free blacks living near slaves because it was too awkward, Mississippian planters passed a law that prohibited emancipation; the only way around was to pass a special legislative act for each manumission. Because of this law, there were only 1,000 free blacks in Mississippi as of 1860, as opposed to 436,000 slaves.

A stronghold of Jacksonian democracy, Mississippi was one of the first Southern states to secede from the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln. More than 80,000 Mississippians fought in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War to protect their right to own slaves.

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It was put into immediate effect in Union-occupied areas of Mississippi, where thousands of slaves left the plantations, but African Americans in the eastern part of the state that was controlled by the Confederacy remained enslaved until the end of the war.

On May 8, 1865, Union troops arrived in Columbus from across the state line in Alabama and effectively put an end to slavery in eastern Mississippi. Interestingly, although Mississippian slaves were emancipated on that day, it took the state over a century to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. constitution. Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995 but failed to submit the ratification document. It was finally submitted on February 7, 2013.

To commemorate the emancipation of slaves in eastern Mississippi, Columbus celebrates Emancipation Day on May 8. The holiday is known locally as “Eight o’ May”. The celebration of freedom includes cultural performances, special history lessons, and other events and activities that are held in Columbus and other cities and towns of eastern Mississippi.

Remind me with Google Calendar


Other Observances



Emancipation Day, Emancipation Day in Mississippi, emancipation of slaves, observances in the United States