Charleston Emancipation Proclamation Association's annual parade Emancipation Day parade, 2020

The nation’s oldest continuous Emancipation Day parade will be held at noon Jan. 1, 2021 as a virtual event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While most everyone in the U.S. recognizes Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day, in Charleston the day holds another significance. Since 1866, the first of January has been observed as Emancipation Day in Charleston in commemoration of the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln: Jan. 1, 1863.

Sponsored by the Charleston Emancipation Proclamation Association (CEPA), the celebration normally includes a parade, speeches, religious services and feasting.

Due to the pandemic, many of these community-oriented events are moving online, streamed virtually for those interested in participating.

Following the virtual parade, viewers can watch a virtual commemorative worship service hosted by Charity Missionary Baptist Church and its pastor, Nelson B. Rivers III.

The event can be watched on CEPA’s website.