Wedding portraits found in Viola Baskerville’s family records depict her grandparents, Charles Carey Braxton and Ellen Ann Johnson Braxton, among the first generations of her family born after emancipation. Chris Smith photo
Although President Abraham Lincoln promised an end to slavery when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation almost 150 years ago in September 1862, enslaved blacks would have to wait another few years before their freedom was made real.
This month marks "Juneteenth," also known as Emancipation Day, a celebration central to the theme of liberty for African-Americans in particular.
It was June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people in the United States were finally free, and in some form or another, their dream of freedom shares the same spirit that has animated America from its very beginning, for better or for worse — liberty from religious oppression, from tyranny or from conflicting politics and ideals.
As a Richmond city commission ponders the creation of a slavery museum in Shockoe Bottom, we offer two features exploring both slavery and liberty: Harry Kollatz Jr. relays the personal narratives of three African-Americans who have traced their family trees from slavery; and Chris Dovi presents Richmond magazine's proposal for America's Liberty Trail, an A-to-Z version of American history that only our city can tell.