Today (April 15th) is Emancipation Day in Washington DC. The government holiday marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 that freed -- and compensated the owners of -- more than 3000 slaves in the District of Columbia. The Act set the stage for President Lincoln's broader Emancipation Proclamation, a wartime executive order he signed in January, 1863, which declared the 3 million slaves held in the rebellious Confederate states to be free. Neither of these "emancipations" outlawed slavery, nor conferred freedom on all of the nation's four million African slaves. Slavery remained legal in the United States until the US Congress, at Lincoln's urging, passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution on January 31, 1865, and the states ratified it on December 6th of that same year.
This morning, we begin with a conversation about a different kind of emancipation: the emotional emancipation from the mental slavery that afflicts many people in communities of color. Tonight, the Black Mental Health Alliance will present a panel discussion at Coppin State University about how negative perceptions of Africans and African Americans can have a crippling effect on communities of color, and why African-centered approaches to mental health are crucial to addressing the psychological health of minorities in Baltimore, and beyond. Two of the panelists at tonight’s event join Tom in Studio A: Dr. Cheryl Grills is a professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and the Immediate Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists. Enola Aird is a lawyer, and the founder and president of the Connecticut-based Community Healing Network.