On 04 January 2005, Mayor Anthony Williams signed into law the District of Columbia Emancipation Day Amendment Act of 2004, making Emancipation Day a legally recognized city public holiday.
The holiday commemorates the day in 1862 that President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the District of Columbia and freed more than 3,000 slaves. This act was passed nine months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It was the first time that the government of the United States acted formally to abolish slavery and telegraphed the eventual end of slavery to the rest of the country.
Mayor Adrian Fenty, as stated in his proposed fiscal 2010 spending plan, wishes to put the holiday back into private observance. His rationale is to "save the city about $1.3 million" in holiday pay for city workers who have to work on 16 April, beginning in 2010. Obviously, not everyone is happy about the proposal.
“I think it is just disrespectful of what I think is one of the most important holidays we can honor,” Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. said Tuesday. “I will fight to ensure that it stays in the budget.”
Personally, I don't really care one way or the other. On one hand, taking away a holiday from people is a rough thing to do. On the other hand, which would you rather have ... one less holiday or a cut in services?