Presentation explores lives of free-born children after Civil War

The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library will present “Children of the Promised Land,” a presentation and discussion by Angela Bates, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Main Library at 625 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.

Members of the community are invited to attend the free program. The program is made possible by Humanities Kansas.

This pictorial history explores the unique experiences of the mothers and their children in Nicodemus, Kansas, some of whom were the first members of their families born free from the physical and psychological effects of slavery, according to a spokesman.

The discussion will explore the dynamics of child-rearing during and after slavery, stories of children conceived in slavery but born free, and how baby names were changed or used to reflect attitudes about free-born children.

Nicodemus, a small, unincorporated town in Graham County, is the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War, according to a spokesman. Today the town is a National Historic Site.

Angela Bates is the executive director of the Nicodemus Historical Society. She presents educational programs across the nation covering Nicodemus, Exodusters and black towns in the West, Buffalo Soldiers, and black women in the West.

“My great uncle, Henry Williams, was the first baby born in Nicodemus just a month after my great-grandmother Emma arrived with the first group of settlers in 1877,” Bates said. “He was one of the first in his generation born on the free soils of Kansas. He represents the many children of his generation that were reared by parents who were former slaves.”

“Children of the Promised Land” is part of Humanities Kansas’s Movement of Ideas Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations and workshops designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.

For more information about “Children of the Promised Land” contact the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library at 913-295-8250 or visit www.kckpl.org.

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