Dec. 30, 2017
On December 30, 1862, blacks in the northern states were about 26 hours away from the learning the fate of their enslaved brothers and sisters in the 11 Confederate states. Most likely most if not all of our ancestors being held in bondage in those southern states knew nothing or very little about impending Emancipation Proclamation that was scheduled to be signed by President Lincoln and go into effect at 12:01 am January 1, 1863.
This proclamation would immediately free all blacks being held in bondage in those 11 Confederate states. It would not apply to any slaves held in bondage in the Union's Border States, or southern territories held by Union forces. So beginning at 12:00 midnight December 31, 1862, and for the 24 hours leading up to midnight January 1, 1863, black communities throughout the country have traditionally celebrated Watch Day & Watch Night which has come to symbolize the unleashing of the chains of slavery that shackled our ancestors for over 250 years in America.