Kirk Franklin will celebrate Emancipation Day in the District on Tuesday. In the spirit of the occasion, his 7 p.m. concert on Freedom Plaza will be free.

D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange said they specifically reached out to the gospel singer as Tuesday's "big attraction" on a day that also includes fireworks, a performance by UniverSoul Circus, a parade -- including, for the first time, a "big presence" by the federal government -- and educational workshops in the John A. Wilson Building.

The celebration, marking the date President Lincoln freed slaves in the District with the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act months ahead of the Emancipation Proclamation, kicked off on a serious note Sunday night with a debate at the Lincoln Theatre modeled after the notably vicious 1858 debates between Lincoln and Democratic nominee Stephen Douglas.

Representing the liberal side were MSNBC's Rev. Al Sharpton and syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, exchanging sharp words with their conservative counterparts: Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education founder Star Parker and Congress of Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis. We spotted D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilman Marion Barry in attendance.