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Upson Emancipation

Celebrating History. Celebrating Traditions. Celebrating Freedom.

Thomaston is famous for the Emancipation Celebration held on or around May 29 each year! This event is organized by The Emancipation Committee of Upson; this popular and worthy local event has an unbroken 158-year history since the end of slavery in Upson County in 1865.

William Guilford is credited with organizing the first celebration. Most of what we know about the first event comes from William Guilford himself, in a memorial furnished to the Thomaston Times in 1891 by the Colored Celebration Association (as the committee was then called). Guilford wrote that there were five speakers on May 29, 1866: Thomas S. Sharman, Peter W. Alexander, Jennings Thompson, James W. Greene, and (future Georgia governor) James M. Smith. 

The earliest newspaper account, 1876, tells us that the speaking was held at Benjamin White's Grove. In 1927, The Emancipation Celebration was moved and celebrated to a location that is known as Lincoln Park where it has remained until today.

The traditions of the official program of singing and speeches, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, the parade through Thomaston and the happy party atmosphere have remained in tack.

Our Mission

The goal of this Committee is to preserve, continue, improve and help in keeping The Emancipation Celebration as one of the oldest celebrations in Georgia, as the day The Emancipation Proclamation reached Upson County (Thomaston) Georgia. Also, to assist other organizations, the youth and to help with the betterment for the improvements in our community.

Meet The Officers

Meet Our Members

Audrey Blair

Jacolby Caldwell (Honorary)

George Carriker (Honorary)

Mia Collier

Rita Drake

Brenda Hobbs

Rose Ivey

Langston Johnson (Honorary)

Greta King

Kevin Prater

Patricia Reeves (Honorary)

Clara Varner

Doris Walden

Becoming An Emancipation Committee
Member is Simple

We are always looking for passionate people who are interested in upholding our mission and serving the community.


To become a member

1) Attend (3) consecutive public meetings

2) Pay the $15 membership dues (due annually)

Open membership is from June 1st to February 28th/29th (leap year).


We meet every 2nd Tuesday from June to January, every 2nd and 4th Tuesday from February to April and every Tuesday in May at the Thomaston Senior Citizen Center located at 302 S Bethel Street, Thomaston, GA 30286!

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