The free program celebrated entertainers and female activists in Florida’s Black History

On May 20, the Lee County Black History Society presented “The Women of 1865 and Thereafter” at Roberto Clemente Park, 1936 Henderson Ave., Fort Myers. The program was free to public and included approximately 50 guests for a tented event in the park.

Guests heard from speakers and presenters about Florida’s civil rights activists during and following Florida’s Emancipation. Special entertainment was provided by Karlus Trapp, who gave a special performance of “The Roots of Black Music in America,” a musical journey through time that included spirituals, Louie Armstrong classics, Scott Joplin’s Ragtime favorites, energetic jazz from Cab Calloway and calypso folk from Harry Belafonte.

Catering for the special event was by Chelle’s Special Touch Catering.

Emcees for the event were Stephanie Stephens of Simply Step and Nikijha Lynch from Fly 98.5 radio.

Emancipation from slavery was proclaimed in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865, 11 days after the end of the Civil War, and two years after the Proclamation first issued by President Abraham Lincoln freed those enslaved in southern states. The event leads up to Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States and a federal holiday.

“The national holiday for the end to slavery in the United States is Juneteenth,” said Charles Barnes, chairperson of the society. “But also important, especially to our significant local Black history, is Emancipation Day, where we celebrate the end of slavery to Florida.”

Watch this FOX4 Southwest Florida video for more and view our event schedule for upcoming events.