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Tue, 11.25.1862

Freedmen’s Towns, a brief article

*On this date in 1862, Freedmen’s Towns are celebrated. 

Freedmen's Towns were Black municipalities built by former slaves who were emancipated during and after the American Civil War. These towns emerged in a number of states, most notably Texas.  The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment brought over 4 million people out of slavery from the Confederate States of America. Many were faced with the questions of where they would go, what they would eat and how they would survive. Many decided to remain on plantations working as sharecroppers.  

Many freedmen migrated from white areas to build their own towns away from white supervision. They also created their own churches and civic organizations. Freedmen’s settlements had a greater measure of protection from the direct effects of Jim Crow Laws. "Such places were defensive communities, where Black property owners had circled the wagons against outsiders a “fortress without walls.” Freedmen’s settlements were Black enclaves that kept to themselves and until the end of Jim Crow few whites wished to or dared to live there”. Education was of the highest priority for the residents of freedmen towns. They started schools, which both adults and children attended to learn to read and write.  

By 1915 schools built in the Freedmen's settlements were mostly small frame one or two room structures. Textbooks for the schools were typically donated from white schools and often they were in poor condition. Teachers were serious about discipline which was strictly enforced by switching students with a brush or making them stand in a corner on one leg.The Fourth Ward of Houston, Texas is the location of the Freedmen's Town Historic District. 

Reference:

TAMU.edu

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