Skip to main content
Introducing the

Emancipation Bells

Join us as we build an outdoor performing arts space in Southeast D.C. to honor the legacy of American abolitionists.

Emancipation Bells

The Emancipation Bells in brief.

A concert-grade grand carillon will rise from a wooded knoll adjacent to the Bridge District, joining the family of carillons (Washington National Cathedral, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Netherlands Carillon, et al.) as the first of its kind east of the Anacostia River at a scale that’s more approachable to audience and artists alike.


Plus! Free year-round performances, recitals, and events.

The bell of freedom cannot be unrung.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Bells rang out in jubilant peal as word of the Proclamation resounded across the nation.

Before that momentous stroke of the pen, an inflection point in American history, advocates of abolition had been working tirelessly for decades – men and women who demanded justice, equality, dignity, and freedom.

It’s time their stories are tolled.

a group of people posing for a photo

Ringing history to life

This new carillon, ring of peal bells, amphitheater, and garden will stand in commemoration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, with each of the bells named in honor of an abolitionist who worked to end slavery in America.


Celebrate the voices that reverberate across centuries.

Explore our list of Emancipation heroes to be honored with bells – and consider sponsoring a bell to bring their voices to life.

Ringing history to lifeRinging history to life

Keep the voices of abolitionists and the spirit of freedom alive and ringing.

DonateSponsor a bell


A message from the Congresswoman

Eleanor Holmes Norton

District of Columbia

Harriet TubmanNational Womens History Museumstencila black and white sign

A place to gather, engage, and inspire

An exquisite set of finely-tuned bells deserves a belfry that rises to the occasion.


Discover the architecture of the Emancipation Bells

Built for the community, made to be welcoming to all, and singularly designed to celebrate the work of abolitionism.


‘The Great Emancipator’

Hung separately from the carillon and suspended between the east and west belfries, this great bell will be tolled at moments of distinct importance:

  • The date the Proclamation was announced
  • The date the Proclamation took effect
  • D.C. Emancipation Day
  • Juneteenth

Our Campaign Cabinet

Meet the planning committee behind the Emancipation Bells.

Our Campaign Cabinet

Mayor Bennard Cann of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Bennard Cann
BJ Douglass
Liam Flood
Michael Gancz
Winston Gray of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Winston Gray
Linda Harris
Keyonna Jones of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Keyonna Jones
Cheriss May of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Cheriss May
Kamilah Mitchell of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Kamilah Mitchell
Bruce Purnell of the Emancipation Bells Campaign Cabinet
Bruce Purnell