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Section 2: Building the Black Community: The Family Section 2: Building the Black Community: The Church Section 2: Building the Black Community: The School Section 2: Quest for Economic Autonomy and Equal Rights Section 2:  Memory and Mourning Section 2: Violence

Building the Black Community:
The Family

Image of a family unit

Reuniting families separated under slavery, and solidifying existing family relations, were essential to the black definition of freedom. The family stood as the main pillar of the postwar black community.

Most slaves had lived in family units, although they faced the constant threat of separation from loved ones by sale. Freedpeople made remarkable efforts to locate loved ones - a Northern reporter in 1865 encountered a former slave who had walked more than 600 miles searching for his wife and children, from whom he had been sold away during slavery.

Slave marriages had no legal standing; now tens of thousands of freedpeople registered their unions before the army, Freedmen's Bureau, and local governments.

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Copyright 2003
A New Birth of Freedom: Reconstruction During the Civil War The Meaning of Freedom: Black and White Responses to Slavery From Free Labor to Slave Labor Rights and Power: The Politics of Reconstruction Introduction The Ending of Reconstruction Epilogue: The Unfinished Revolution Credits for this Exhibit