The Center for African American History, Art and Culture celebrated its grand reopening on Juneteenth, June 19. There was entertainment, vendors and tours of the Center during the re-opening festivities.

A special feature of the re-opening was a new Family Research Room within the Center, made possible with a significant donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The president of the Aiken Stake of the Church, C. Nathan Hancock, memorialized the award at graduation of family history consultants at the Center, 120 York Street NE., Aiken, May 27.

Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, is the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is observed with picnics, parades and church services. The date celebrates the arrival of Union soldiers and the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the state of Texas, the last southern state to receive news that slavery had been abolished. This occurred two years after Lincoln signed the proclamation.

For the past several weeks, family history consultant volunteers from the Church have been training members of the African-American community to establish a team of volunteers to assist in family research within the Center. The recent digitizing of many of the Freedmen’s Bureau records, some dating near the end of the Civil War, will help in this effort. Those attending the re-opening festivities will be afforded the opportunity to have some free family research provided at a later date, if they request it. After the opening, there will also be training made available for those who wish to use the facilities for their own research

The donated funds have been applied to specialized construction, computers, and other equipment at the Center to facilitate family history research. In addition, youth from the NAACP worked together with Church members to improve the landscaping and plant flowers and bushes. Local artists were commissioned with part of the funds to create befitting murals in choice locations within the Center.

Those seeking additional information can go to the webpage or call 803-226-0269.

Graduates of Family Research Training hold their certificates, while Jennifer Curtis, Center Board Chair, and Nathan Hancock, President of the Aiken Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold the ceremonial check.

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