By Mike Steely

In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free anyone held in slavery and the act went into effect on January 1, 1863. On the first day of 2020 the Knoxville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People celebrates the national 157th anniversary and the 7th such celebration in Knoxville.

Rev. Harold A. Middlebrook said the celebration will be held at 11 a.m. at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 2714 Brooks Road. Mrs. Vrondelia (Ronni) Chandler, executive director of Project GRAD, will be the speaker. Music will be provided by various local soloists.

Chandler was recognized with the distinguished award from Pellissippi College in 2016 and has been with Project GRAD for 17 years.

The celebration is sponsored by Prince Hall Free and Protected Order of the Elks of the World,, The National Pan Hellenic Council of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Inc, Omega Psi Pi Inc, Phi Beta Sigma, Iota Phi Theta Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc, Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Inc., the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and the Knoxville Inter-denominational Christian Ministerial Alliance.

Everyone is invited to the celebration. The NAACP Knoxville Chapter is located at 2334 Dandridge Avenue.