Tallahassee’s Festival of Freedom Takes Over May

Tallahassee residents are learning more about the history of freedom throughout the month of May thanks to the 2016 Festival of Freedom.

All month long, the festival will display the history that plays a pivotal role in today’s society.

In addition to the Museum of Florida History offering daily tours that highlight artifacts depicting the African American experience in Florida, the Leroy Collin Leon County Public Library System is displaying books about emancipation, early Tallahassee and civil rights.

Monday evening Florida State University historian Katherine Mooney, Ph.D., presented “Living Freedom: The Consequences of Emancipation and Why They Still Matter” hosted by the Dr. B. L. Perry Jr. Branch Library.

“We talk about how ingenious the Emancipation Proclamation is, and how wonderful it is. It is ingenious and it is wonderful, but it's not I would say ingenous in any one of the reasons that we usually argue with,” Mooney said.

In order for Mooney’s presentation to be understood, she painted a vivid picture of 1863 to convey important background knowledge of the writer of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Think of where he is when he’s writing this,” Mooney said, “Abe Lincoln’s a Western politician who spent most of his career, up to and including when he gets elected president, saying that he does not believe in the expansion of slavery beyond where it already exists, but also very clearly saying that he would have no powers as president to get rid of it where it already exists.”

As Mooney continued and concluded her detailed presentation, Leon County Commissioner of District 1 Bill Proctor addressed the audience expressing his amazement of history.

“Our nation is so young, and yet such recent spots of our history were so blank. That amazes me,” Proctor said.

Also serving as a Florida A&M University professor, Proctor reminisced about Dr. B. L. Perry.

“Dr. B. L. Perry was president at FAMU in the 60’s and the 70’s, and I was a Sunday school teacher at Bethel AME Baptist Church (when) he asked me to take over his class,” Proctor said. “It's good to know that all things work together and it's rare that communities have discussions like this.”

Richard Cortina, branch manager at Dr. B.L. Perry Library, expressed his excitement of the library being a part of the 2016 Festival of Freedom.

“I call it the ‘Wonderful B.L. Perry Library’ because we get the chance everyday to change someone’s life,” Cortina said. “I get paid to provide information and be nice to people and that’s a pretty nice gig.”

The 2016 Festival of Freedom has a schedule of events from May 1 – May 22. The festival’s schedule of events can be found at www.museumoffloridahistory.com.