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Congregation celebrates 152 years since Emacipation Proclamation | News

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Congregation celebrates 152 years since Emacipation Proclamation
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New Year's Day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in confederate states free.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church in east Knoxville held a special service Thursday filled with song, scripture and prayer to remember the historical moment. Two Austin-East students also read the proclamation aloud.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, a civil rights leader and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said this ceremony was about honoring the past and building a better future.

"We talk at each other, but seldom do we talk to each other," said Middlebrook. "We need to struggle to find out that race is important and that black lives count, that white lives count, that European Americans, that Hispanics, that Asian Americans, everybody counts. If we're going to make this nation one nation, then we've got to come together."

Mt. Zion Baptist is Knoxville's oldest black congregation. The church was founded in 1860, predating the Civil War.


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