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City of Tampa Administrator and Chief Diversity Officer Ocea Wynn Shares her Great Grandfather’s Story for Florida Emancipation Day

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Emancipation Day is especially meaningful to Ocea Wynn as her great grandfather, Henry Clary Thomas, a formerly enslaved person from Georgia, proudly marched alongside General William Tecumseh Sherman.

TAMPA, Fla. (Friday, May 20, 2022) -- Today, the City of Tampa is recognizing an important day in Florida’s history. On this day in 1865, Emancipation for all enslaved people in Florida was finally proclaimed in Tallahassee. This was 11 days after the end of the Civil War and two years after President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Ocea Wynn, the City of Tampa’s Administrator of Neighborhood Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, is visiting Tallahassee on behalf of the City of Tampa today to join the Florida Emancipation Day celebration. 

This day is especially meaningful to her family. Wynn’s great grandfather, Henry Clary Thomas, was a formerly enslaved person in Georgia who proudly marched alongside General William Tecumseh Sherman to ensure the liberation of all enslaved people in Florida.

“My great grandfather was born into slavery and could only sign his name with an X,” Wynn said. “However, he was determined that his daughters, my grandmother and my grandmother’s sister, would be educated. That stream of education has really been emphasized in my family. We are all thankful for all Henry Clary Thomas has done for us and for others who were able to realize their freedom.” 

Watch a video interview with Ocea Wynn where she shares her great grandfather’s story.

The City of Tampa encourages all residents to honor stories like Henry's and reflect on this momentous day in American history.