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Juneteenth Celebrated With Family History Event at California’s Capitol

Judges and legislators in California joined with representatives of the Sacramento Family History Library Monday, June 11, 2018, to discover their roots as part of the Juneteenth celebration at the California State Capitol. The event was organized by assembly member Brian Dahle and the California Legislative Black Caucus. It was also supported by the California African American Museum along with California Secretary for Natural Resources, John Laird. The event commemorated the 153rd anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States.

 

The celebration began with California Assembly member Chris Holden welcoming the guests and introducing George Davis, director of the California African American Museum, who announced that new family history kiosks will be installed in the Los Angeles museum, giving visitors an opportunity to find their roots.

Assembly members Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Shirley Weber shared personal stories of finding their family history in the Freedmen’s Bureau database.

The Freedmen’s Bureau was established in 1865 to assist emancipated slaves as they transitioned to freedom. The records of 1.8 million individuals recorded by the bureau were digitized and indexed through the sponsorship of FamilySearch International. Those records are now searchable by their descendants.

Genealogists and members of the local African American Genealogical Society helped more than 50 guests build their family tree by researching the recently digitized records from the Freedmen’s Bureau Project.

One guest, Maxine Holmberg-Douglas, knew that she was a descendent of Louis Charbonnet of Louisiana, but the help she received at this Juneteenth event allowed her to confirm the family stories that had been handed down to her and her cousin. Another guest discovered ancestors dating back to 1624.

At the evening reception of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, assembly member Kevin McCarty singled out the key contributions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in organizing the Freedman’s Bureau Project. McCarty encouraged attendees to delve into their own family histories and to share the new resources made possible through the project. He reminded all present “that we are all sons and daughters of God sharing a common bond. The Freedmen’s Bureau gives us access to a rich heritage of ancestors to make [them] part of our own family history.”

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