Voter Suppression and Depression
Special Guest Carlos and Anita Spencer
Senses of Freedom: Exploring the Tastes, Sounds and Experiences of an African American Celebration
Join the museum’s Juneteenth celebration – during the entire month of June – and embrace the rich history of Freedom Day each week.
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On June 19, 1865, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with news of freedom. More than 250,000 African Americans embraced freedom by executive decree in what became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. With the principles of self-determination, citizenship, and democracy magnifying their hopes and dreams, those Texans held fast to the promise of true liberty for all.
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”Gordon Granger
Union General, June 19, 1865
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The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is an often overlooked event in our nation’s history. On June 19, 1865, Union troops freed enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay and across Texas some two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
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What is Juneteenth?
In this curatorial discussion, museum experts examine the historical significance of the holiday and how it came to be.
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The coming of summer heralds cook-outs, line dancing, and brightly colored t-shirts iconic of Black family reunions.
With the end of slavery, searching for family members who had been separated or sold away became the focus of many formerly enslaved individuals. The number of years of separation did not deter people from hoping to reunite with lost loved ones. Newspaper advertisements, letters and word of mouth were all employed as part of the search. The hope was that a positive response might lead to a reunion with family members.
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Emancipation and Educating the Newly Freed
For the nearly four million newly freed, education was a crucial first step to becoming self-sufficient. Between 1861 and 1900, more than 90 institutions of higher education were founded for African Americans.
After the Civil War, African Americans worked tirelessly to reconnect with family and loved ones separated under slavery. The Freedmen’s Bureau was a useful tool, aiding in the work that Black communities were already doing to reunite families.
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Freedmen’s Bureau Search Portal
The Freedmen’s Bureau Search Portal provides unprecedented opportunities for family historians and genealogists to search for their ancestors and for scholars to research a variety of topics related to slavery and Reconstruction in the Freedmen’s Bureau records.
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Smithsonian Transcription Center
The Smithsonian Transcription Center is a pan-Smithsonian website that allows digital volunteers, or “volunpeers,” from around the world to transcribe documents, photograph captions, field books, and other materials online.
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Office of Sub Asst. Comr. Bur. R.F. & A.L.
sixth Sub District of Texas
Columbus Tex June 12th 1867.
Lieut. J.T. Kirkman U.S.A.
Supt. of Education
Bur. R.F. & A.L.
The freedpeople of this County are to celebrate the anniversary of their Emancipation
on Saturday June 24th. The schools of this District
will form a feature of the day’s enjoyment in making
short addresses + singing songs and hymns. It has been suggested that Prizes be
distributed on that day to those of the children
who have received the highest averages for good conduct and application to study.
Will the Bureau furnish these say 10 or 15 handsome Bibles and a
few other good Books for the occasion?
Your Obd’t Servt
Enon M. Harris
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870, Letters Received, Unregistered Letters Received