On the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, 17-year-old Arriane Anderson stood proudly before the congregation at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church.

The James Irwin Charter High School senior, who plans to be a dentist, spoke on Tuesday to the crowd that came to celebrate history on Jubilee Day ‘13 and to witness the induction of new officers for the Colorado Springs Branch of the NAACP.

Anderson reminded listeners how people waited anxiously to hear that the document signed by President Abraham Lincoln would go into effect and declare that slaves in rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

“I’m reminded of my ancestors who waited up all night to hear the news,” Anderson said. “It came at midnight and word began to spread.”

Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the local NAACP for nearly eight years, noted that the proclamation didn’t free anyone.

“It laid the foundation for freedom and it’s celebrated all over our country today,” she said.

Freedom was finalized by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House of Representatives on Jan. 31, 1865, and adopted on Dec. 6, 1865.

The NAACP —the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People —was established in 1909 and continues to work for equality. Henry Allen Jr. was installed as local NAACP President on Tuesday.

Rev. Cleveland Thompson, 54, Senior Pastor at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, grew up in Liberty, Miss., during the turbulent time of civil rights demonstrations.

“My parents shared with me the story of a person who gave their life for voter registration,” Thompson said.

John Register, an associate minister at the church and associate director for the U.S. Paralympics, said this is still a “young country.”

“You go to a restaurant in Germany and it may have been built in 1100,” he said. “We’ve come so far in the United States and we have an African-American President, but there is still so much to work for.

“Until, as a nation, we see the value and benefit of all our people, we’ll be a young nation.”

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens

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