Local community leaders celebrate Emancipation Proclamation

On this New Year's Eve hundreds are expected to wait in line at the National Archives for a glimpse of history. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in this country, will be on view. The document is 150 years old.

Through the years, many black churches have marked the occasion with watch night services, a chance to recall the struggle to end slavery and to inspire others to seek justice. Birmingham, too, has a special service set for new year's day.

It's held annually at the Bethel Baptist Church, Berney Points. The pastor says he's noticed a decline in attendance each year, but that doesn't change the importance of the message.

The keynote speaker for the annual event is Judge U.W. Clemon, the first African American federal judge appointed in Alabama.

Clemon, who grew up during the civil rights movement says there is still plenty to learn from the events of 1863. He says the emancipation proclamation should inspire people of all races to strive toward equality and fair treatment for everyone.