DC Emancipation Day (Lights of Freedom) at Walter Pierce Park

Save to Favorites

Washington Parks & People

  • A group opportunity. Invite your friends.
  • 90 people are interested

On April 16th in honor of DC Emancipation Day, Parks & People hosts a Lights of Freedom event where community residents and descendants will join with the National Park Service and DC Parks and Recreation to light over 2,000 candle luminaries in honor of thousands of African Americans who were buried in what is now Adams Morgan's Walter Pierce park after they gained their freedom during the Civil War. Each illuminated candle will be a tribute to four of the people who were buried under Walter Pierce Park and parts of the adjoining National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, which comprise the largest unmarked African American cemetery in the capital. At least 8,428 African American men, women, and children were buried in the Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery between 1870 and 1890. More than half of the graves are children. All are invited to join in the program at Walter Pierce Park, located off of Calvert Street, NW at the east end of the Duke Ellington Bridge. The program begins at 7pm. The candlelight begins to shine forth as dusk falls at 7:45, with music provided by area church choirs. There will be a period of silence as twilight settles in after 8:00 p.m. The candles will be displayed until 9:00 p.m. A community partnership has completed a historical study and archaeological research about the cemetery, including information from ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry to help document the most sensitive areas of the site. This information will inform the development of a permanent park master plan for the site, which will seek to permanently protect the remains, to tell the stories of those buried there, and to provide a way for future generations to honor and never forget their stories. If you are interested in helping to setup the event, volunteers are needed from 9am-9pm but can also come for smaller time slots as well. Volunteers will help setup the luminarie bags - folding the paper bags, adding in a cup of sand, and a candle. They will then help to place the bags in a grid to be lit at dusk. This is an incredibly moving event and WPP needs a lot of volunteers!


More opportunities with Washington Parks & People

1 Review

No additional volunteer opportunities at this time.

About Washington Parks & People


2437 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, US

Mission Statement

To breathe life into parks and transform communities across the nation's capital.


Recognized as one of America's top parks/community partnerships, Parks & People is Washington's city-wide public/private parks partnership. Founded in 1990 to reclaim Meridian Hill/ Malcolm X Park, the organization led the transformation of that park from the most violent national site in the region to one of the safest. To date, Parks & People has helped advance over 160 parks, trails, streams, playgrounds, schoolyards, and community gardens. Parks & People's facilities include the historic Josephine Butler Parks Center, a vibrant and award-winning multi-purpose 40-room "greenhouse" for revitalizing innercity greenspaces; the Riverside Healthy Living Center, providing park programming, youth development, and healthy park-based business incubation; the Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center, a training farm, native tree nursery, and base of park reclamation and workforce development through our DC Green Corps; and the North Columbia Heights Green, a once-blighted vacant lot that serves as a hands-on outdoor classroom for sustainable food production and permaculture practices. Among key parks being helped right now, Parks & People has led the transformation of Marvin Gaye Park, DC's longest municipal park, for 14 years. It also helps Oxon Run Park, Shepherd Parkway, the Escarpment Ridge and Fort Circle network of parks, Walter Pierce Park (where 8,428 African Americans were buried after the Civil War), and the east side of Rock Creek park. Over the past decade, Parks & People has mobilized well over 300,000 hours of volunteer service for parks of all kinds. Parks & People volunteers work hard, have fun, and make a massive difference.


Thu Apr 16, 2020
09:00 AM - 09:00 PM  


Walter Pierce ParkCalvert Street NW @ Duke Ellington BridgeWashington, DC 20009



  • Event Design & Planning
  • Exhibition Arts
  • Event Management
  • Event Planning / Management
  • Visual Arts
  • Community Outreach


  • Kids
  • Teens
  • People 55+
  • Group


  • 9am-9pm but can come for various times

Report this opportunity