A photo of Andrea Roberts smiling at one of her students during a trip to a Freedom Colony in Kosse, Texas
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Culture & Society

Freedom Colonies Provide Unique Learning Opportunity For Students

Texas A&M professor Andrea Roberts is working to identify and preserve hundreds of settlements of formerly enslaved people across Texas.
By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications February 28, 2020

At the end of the Civil War, four million slaves were freed and approximately one million of them helped to establish settlements known as Freedom Colonies. The ethnographic and archival research of Texas A&M University Professor of Urban Development Andrea Roberts has uncovered the existence of 557 Freedom Colonies in Texas. Roberts has been able to translate her research into unique learning opportunities for students in her class, “More Than Monuments: Preservation As Social Justice.”

Roberts’ students are, among other activities, compiling a guidebook that can be used by the public to be able to identify a Freedom Colony. The guidebook will be shared at an upcoming preservation symposium and will be made available to the public, Roberts said.

The students are also conducting research, primarily about cemeteries that may be associated with Freedom Colonies.

Roberts said her students are relaying to her how much it means to them to contribute to the Freedom Colonies Project.

“Students are getting the universal significance of these sort of lost, underserved, unrecognized civilizations, and their role in helping to bring attention to their needs and their plight,” she said.

The Freedom Colonies project has identified the locations of 357 of the 557 Freedom Colonies in Texas and will continue working to map the other 200.

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