State Rep. Chris Rabb to introduce resolution making Feb. 3 Emancipation Day, a state holiday

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila, introduced a resolution to make Feb. 3 Emancipation Day, an official state holiday. PA Legislative Black Caucus Chair State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila, is the co-prime sponsor of the bill.

The holiday would celebrate the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in America – changing the lives of African Americans within and beyond Pennsylvania forever. 

While Pennsylvania was one of the first states to vote to ratify the amendment in 1865, too often we forget that slavery was not completely abolished until the 13th Amendment was ratified.

Our state’s complicity in slavery and subjugation of Black people was long and troubled despite consistent dissent from a multiracial group of abolitionists for centuries, starting with the Germantown Quaker Petition in Philadelphia in 1688, the first formal protest chattel slavery by a religious order in the English colonies.

“I believe in celebrating parts of our history that honor true liberty and justice, but only in context,” Rabb said. “While the 13th Amendment abolished slavery – we cannot forget that it would be another century before African Americans even had a semblance of equality.”

Rabb said the resolution honors the fruit of the collective labor of Black Pennsylvanians and their allies in the cause of freedom and racial equity who fought for generations against the enslavement of African Americans and the infringement of their birthright – to be born free and treated as equal.