emancipation

The first black U.S. senator and first black House members were elected by Southern states during Reconstruction.
Library of Congress

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has said, "Reconstruction is one of the most important and consequential chapters in American history. It is also among the most overlooked, misunderstood and misrepresented." 

Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900, Texas
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

On June 19th, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. The news of Emancipation had finally come to the state. Today, this day is celebrated as Juneteenth.

What did it mean to these newly freed people to "be free"? What power, or "agency" did freedom bring? What agency had the enslaved managed to create before Emancipation?