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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On January 1, 1863, an order that would come to define Abraham Lincoln’s presidency went into effect. Leaders of Wilmington’s African-American community say his decision to sign the Emancipation Proclamation still resonates.

Inside the doors of St. Luke AMEZ Church in Wilmington a congregation is looking to the past for answers to today’s problems.

“The challenges we face going forward are not necessarily new challenges they’re the old challenges of 150 years ago, 200 years ago, they still kind of reinvent themselves and the solutions are just the same,” Rev. Dr. William Johnson said. “It takes courage and tenacity, and the ability to have the capacity to still believe in the truth.”

150 years after the enactment of the proclamation Reverend Johnson says that there are still examples of emancipation taking place around us each and every day.

“The emancipation proclamation was the proclamation against a system that was in place,” Johnson said. “The Wilmington Ten being pardoned was a great deal that went a great way to deal with systemic challenges.”

Rev. Johnson used the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation to remind his congregation of the hardships facing us today, and encouraged them to look at Lincoln’s decision for inspiration and courage.

“We are dealing with major challenges, not just racially but economically,” Rev. Johnson said. “Regardless of color people are living in poverty, they’re living in challenging situations and so we have to do something and be tenacious in our attempts to deal with those things. Courage is something that takes all of us, no matter who we are to deal with injustice.”


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