45 judges went to the State Capitol for their legislative day June 26. Judge Michael Carter from the Los Angeles region organized the statewide legislative day to bring the third branch of government to the statehouse. Judges came from almost every region of the state, and many are appointed or elected. They met with African-American lawmakers and others, because of shared interests and helping to share their experience with enacted laws. Many of the judges were able to participate in tracing their family history in an event held later in the day, hosted by the California Legislative Black Caucus, celebrating the digital and searchable records of the Freedman’s Bureau.
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), according to the History.com web site. 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—partly under pressure from white Southerners—shut the bureau down.