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Emancipation Day for Puerto Rico

Emancipation is when slaves were set free. This day is celebrated on different days all over the world, depending on when slavery became illegal. Puerto Ricans celebrate Emancipation Day on March 22nd.


Starting in 1560, the small island of Puerto Rico began branding slaves on the forehead with a stamp so people would know they were brought in legally and that way they couldn't be kidnapped. The cruelty of hot branding was finally stopped in 1784. Thirty-four years later freedom could be bought for children of slaves when they were baptized.


In 1866 Puerto Ricans took charge and brought petitions to Parliament to stop slavery. Finally, in 1873 a new law was made that said slavery was no longer legal. By that time slaves had been on the island for over 350 years. Because of this, many former slaves chose to keep working for their old master. Most of them worked indoors, but almost half of them worked in the field.


Puerto Ricans celebrate this holiday by learning to dance plena and bomba. They also study their history and honor famous black Puerto Ricans. The communities throughout the entire island get together to dance, sing, eat and rejoice.


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