Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) and Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy (HFTC) are partnering to create artistic activations through artist residency programs, research fellowships, and exhibitions with the mission to share and honor the story of Houston’s Fourth Ward and to establish creative opportunities informed by its legacy and community stakeholders.

In 2016, a Houston Mayoral Task Force created HFTC to preserve Freedmen’s Town—a neighborhood established in 1865 by over 1,000 formerly enslaved people—now recognized as Houston’s first Heritage District. Described as “the crown jewel of the Emancipation Trail,” Freedmen’s Town Heritage District is a primary Black cultural landmark that includes seven sites recognized by the UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples project. HFTC’s role is to “Tell the Story of Freedom” by protecting and preserving Freedmen’s Town, and by educating and engaging visitors from around the world about the unique history of this largely untold chapter of Houston’s and America’s past. In physical and virtual form, HFTC is making Freedmen’s Town accessible to the world.

Beginning in Fall 2020, HFTC and CAMH began a programmatic and value-based discussion which led to a formal programming partnership. The two organizations are working together around a shared, artist-centered vision to create and implement a multi-year arts and culture plan rooted in community engagement and empowerment. Together, this project is based on the shared belief that arts and culture is an essential catalyst for change.

We believe the conservation and activation of Freedmen’s Town is an American story that deserves broader recognition, both for its historic importance and for the enduring need to celebrate and protect the essential contributions and value of Black life and culture in the United States. Our hope is to position artists in service of the effort to achieve true recognition for Freedmen’s Town. Artists bring unique insights into cultural legacies and history, and can ignite wonder in unexpected ways. With this in mind, the partnership aims to engage and embed artists in HFTC’s strategic plan to amplify their goals and public outreach.

Both HFTC and CAMH recognize that this partnership is an incredible opportunity to share resources and build capacity for both organizations and for HFTC to gain operational support and know-how in programming art engagements and activations.

CAMHLAB at Freedmen's Town

CAMHLAB at Freedmen’s Town is an onsite artist-in-residency program that aims to highlight, honor, and animate the histories and stories of Freedmen’s Town. Through month-long residencies, the program aims to generate research, contextualize, and connect artists and the general public to the stories of Freedmen’s Town.

Freedmen's Town Residents

If you are a resident of Freedmen’s Town and are looking for information on stakeholder meetings or upcoming skillshare workshops, visit the link below.

Additional Information and Updates

If you have any questions about the project, we would love to hear from you! Please contact Mich Stevenson, Project Manager – Partnerships, CAMH x HFTC at mstevenson@camh.org.

Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy Strategic Plan