Olympian Raven Saunders leads Emancipation Proclamation Parade

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The 156th Annual Emancipation Proclamation Parade rolled down the streets of downtown Charleston Saturday morning.

Charleston native and 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist Raven Saunders served as grand marshal of the parade.

The Emancipation parade has been in Charleston on New Year’s Day since 1866. It’s considered the oldest parade in the country that commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation.

It began at Burke High School as it has in the past, but this year’s parade ended at a new location. Instead of Mother Emanuel AME Church, the parade route’s traditional endpoint, the parade extended to the future site of the International African American Museum at Gadsden’s Wharf.

The Charleston Emancipation celebration has been held on New Year’s Day since 1866 and is considered our nation’s oldest parade commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation.

IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya M. Matthews said Charleston has a special relationship with conversations around enslavement as well as a special relationship with the fight going on to figure out “who our nation will be next.”

Saunders, a graduate of Burke High School, won a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan for her 19.79-meter shot put throw.

Proceeds from the parade’s enrollment fee benefit the Albert W. Hunt Education Scholarship Program, which is maintained by the Emancipation Proclamation Association of Charleston, a local non-profit organization and sponsor of the parade.

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