During the darkest days of Jim Crow segregation, black Americans continued to press for full citizenship. Each Emancipation Day, African Americans organized parades reminding the black community and the entire nation of a commitment that remained unfulfilled. These local celebrations set the stage for the national push for freedom in the 20th century. Modern civil rights activists built upon the legacy of their forebears when they gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. They asked the nation to realize the promises set in motion by the Emancipation Proclamation.