It’s not Midtown or the Museum District…it’s still Third Ward; and residents of Houston’s Third Ward have something to be excited about, as they have a new crown “jewel” that they, along with the former slaves who paid the price to acquire the land where it now sits, can be proud of.
“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 free laborer.”
When African Americans heard this unexpected news that they had legally been set free, coming from the lips of General Granger on June 19, 1865 – or as we now refer to it as Juneteenth – their reactions ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation.
Many of these “newly-freed” and former African American slaves began to wonder what the relationship between them and their former slave masters would now look like.
One of those freedmen, John Henry “Jack” Yates, who was born a slave and learned to read, write and acquire the skills of carpentry, moved his family to Houston and ended up leading a major effort to raise money towards the purchase of a piece of land where African Americans could celebrate Juneteenth, and their newfound freedom from slavery for years to come.
In 1872, Yates and other Freedman’s town residents – Elias Dibble, Richard Allen and Richard Brock –…
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