Learn about Hampton’s Freedom Stories

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Join us in commemorating Juneteenth by learning about Hampton’s freedom stories, exploring our heritage sites, and tuning into the Fragments of Freedom Theatre Production, “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration through Spoken Word Theatre and Music.”

Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration 

June 16, 7 PM 
Facebook Live 

Fragments of Freedom Theatre Productions presents “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration through Spoken Word Theatre and Music,” featuring the talents of spoken word artists and award-winning soul/R&B artist K’bana Blaq.

This virtual event hosted by Hampton History Museum will illuminate the origins and meaning of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Written and directed by Hampton playwright, Marie St. Clair, this moving and memorable virtual event will be aired Wednesday, June 16, at 7 PM. Join the event on Hampton History Museum’s Facebook page, or re-watch on their YouTube channel at any time.   

Fort Monore, Contraband of War 

During the Civil War, three enslaved men, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend, traveled to Union held Fort Monroe. They were accepted by Major Benjamin F. Butler and declared “contraband of war.” News of this decision spread and Fort Monroe earned the nickname “Freedom’s Fortress.” Within two months, over 900 enslaved people escaped to Fort Monroe, and Thousands more followed them. 

While commemorating Juneteenth this week, visit Fort Monroe to learn more about these men, and other freedom stories. Begin your tour at the Fort Monroe Education Center to learn more about Hampton’s freedom stories before touring the fort. Explore the Fort by foot with the Fort Monroe Walking Tour, or drive from site to site to learn more.

Emancipation Oak 

A living symbol of freedom for African Americans and a National Historic Landmark, the expansive Oak grows at the entrance of Hampton University. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Beneath these historic branches, the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation was read later that year. To this day, the Emancipation Oak stands tall for visitors, special Hampton University services, social gatherings, and picnics. 

Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Hampton, the news of freedom arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865. Over the years, Juneteenth celebrations have continued with food, drinks, readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, and sharing African American heritage and stories of the past. 

This year, we invite you to visit these heritage sites, share their stories, and participate in Hampton History Museum’s Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration virtual event.