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The Texas Freedom Colony Project Preservation. Revitalization. Scholarship. Service.

African Americans founded "freedom colonies," across Texas from 1866-1939 (from Emancipation through the end of the Depression Era). They included places like Antioch near Austin, Texas.
These discreet communities, often unmapped or unnamed, are only known by those carrying the names and history of the places in their memories. I learned about Pinehill near Magnolia Springs by talking to Richard Johnson in his barn.
The photos of their events (homecomings, reunions) show us the significance of these places to african american life well after they loss population. These events kept descendants of founders connected to freedom colonies like shankleville Community.
The Mccrays and hadnots are bringing dixie community back to life by re-purposing anchor sites, like segregation era schools. The rehabilitation project is an example of the grassroots planning and preservation practices taking place.
Descendants of these early african american placemakers remain committed to keeping their ancestors' memories alive.
They honor and protect cemeteries, the body archive of these often un-populated freedom colonies. Annual homecomings are pilgrimages and celebrations which draw descendants back to settlements to raise money and share their heritage.
Rock hill settlement's school house still stands in Jasper County.
some freedom colony sites are incredibly well preserved. Huff Creek Chapel was once a Rosenwald school which served as a major connection point between Jasper and Newton county settlements.
Many more are at the end of long dirt roads and at times hard to see or even access.
While many others continue to return, rehabilitate their homesteads, and even add them to the National Register of Historic Places, like here in Shankleville, Texas.

What follow are the freedom colonies I was aware of before ethnographic study. Then those I was made aware of through archival and ethnographic research, 2014-16.

Watch the video to learn more about the significance of Texas freedom colonies. Photos and text are the result of Andrea Roberts' ethnographic and archival research, conducted 2014-2016 in Jasper and Newton County-freedom colonies. These settlements represent a small fraction of the 557+ freedom colonies across Texas. Contact the project director and founder, Dr. Andrea Roberts, assistant professor of urban planning at Texas A & M University, to learn more about how you can help document the hundreds of un-mapped settlements across the state. Contact: aroberts318@tamu.edu or roberta318@gmail.com

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Andrea Roberts
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