On Friday, April 15, at 6p, at the corner of 4th and I Streets, Southwest (SW) (by Westminster Presbyterian Church) patriots will gather to begin a “Remember the Pearl” Walk to the SW Wharf. It was on the same night in 1848 that 77 men, women, and children, enslaved by prominent families in the District of Columbia, made their way to the river, boarded a schooner called “The Pearl” and began a heroic and historic, but failed bid for freedom.
Some, such as the Edmonson sisters, survived to live interesting lives in physical freedom. At least one of the Edmonson descendants is scheduled to participate in the events.
This annual season of commemoration in SW will include a colorful History Tent located by the SW Market at 4th and M, SW. It will include 16 art panels to bring the Pearl history, its context, and other hidden histories to light.
The walk will conclude on the public pier with the flame at the SW Wharf with remarks and a presentation of a wreath made by the SW Sea Scouts of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. A flotilla of boats will symbolically head toward freedom.
The Pearl escape attempt and its aftermath contributed to the abolition of slavery in Washington, DC. On Saturday, April 16, DC’s “compensated” Emancipation Day, the first SW Freedom Fest takes place from 1p-3p at Westminster Church. It will feature an exhibit by artist Kristin Hayes-Campbell, a descendant of a Pearl family freedom seeker, the band and dance team of Richard Wright Public Charter High School in SW, and complimentary food and drink.