This information is
courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission. Anyone may receive a copy of their
By 1716, Spain had established permanent settlements in the territory known as Tejas. In 1803 the Spanish declared that any slave that escaped across the Sabine River into Texas was automatically free. The border became very popular to African American slaves. Many American slaves wanted to get to Texas so they could be free. They made a living in Texas as shoemakers, teachers, merchants, miners, and many other jobs. Even though the Spanish were slaveholders throughout Mexico many African Americans could own land and marry freely.
After Texas won its independence from Mexico
in 1836, life for the African American in Texas changed. Slavery became legal once
again. In 1848 Texas became part of the United States of America. In 1861, Texas
joined the Confederacy and slavery continued in Texas. Much of Texas fought in the
civil war as part of the Confederacy. On June 19 the African Americans finally
received word of the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln signed.
This proclamation freed all the slaves in Texas.
When the civil rights movement started, black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. worked long and hard to get the "separate but equal" laws abolished, have voting rights for all African American adults, and improve education. Their efforts continue today as progress is gradually made toward these goals.
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