KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The East Tennessee Historical Society is hosting an Aug. 8 brown bag lecture with William Isom II. Aug. 8 is known as East Tennessee’s Emancipation Day.

Isom is the Director of Community Outreach for East Tennessee PBS and the Director of the Black in Appalachia Project for PBS. He coordinates the project’s research, community database development, documentary film and photography production, oral history, and education events with the help of local residents. The project includes 12 categories for areas of Tennessee, Virginia and Southeast Ohio in addition to the Aug. 8 category.

Aug. 8 is known as Emancipation Day for Tennessee and other states, as opposed to Jan. 1, when President Lincoln signed the preliminary proclamation in 1862.

There are several speculated reasons why Aug. 8 is considered the day that slaves were freed in Tennessee, but the proclamation only abolished slavery in confederate states. At the time Tennessee was Union-occupied, according to the Tennessee Historical Society.

What is currently known is Andrew Johnson, Tennessee’s military governor, who later became the 17th president of the United States, freed the slaves that he owned on Aug. 8, 1863. One of those slaves, Sam Johnson, was remembered as the person who was successful in having the day set aside for observance and celebration.

According to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the first recorded celebration of Emancipation Day on Aug. 8 was in 1871, in Greenville, Tenn.

The holiday was celebrated in at least seven states and 55 communities, and it is still celebrated in Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. In March of 2020, House Bill 1544 proposed the designation of Emancipation Day as a legal state holiday unanimously passed by the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Isom’s lecture will be Monday, Aug. 8 from 12-1 p.m. at the East Tennessee History Center, located on 601 South Gay Street in Knoxville. Limited tickets are available for free through Eventbrite for in-person and online attendance.

The event will also be livestreamed on the East Tennessee Historical Society’s Facebook page.