The California Legislative Black Caucus, Republican members, and Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted a Juneteenth celebration that allowed guests to trace their heritage through the Freedman’s Bureau African American Family History Project at the State Capitol Monday, June 26. Participants were paired with volunteer’s that helped make family member connections as far back as the mid-1800’s, often by simply knowing a few details.
According to the History.com web site, the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, popularly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established in 1865 by Congress to help former Black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). Some 4 million slaves gained their freedom as a result of the Union victory in the war, which left many communities in ruins and destroyed the South’s plantation-based economy. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, housing, and medical aid, established schools and offered legal assistance.
It also attempted to settle former slaves on Confederate lands confiscated or abandoned during the war. However, the bureau was prevented from fully carrying out its programs due to a shortage of funds and personnel, along with the politics of race and Reconstruction. In 1872, Congress, in part under pressure from white Southerners, shut the bureau down.