Author: Holly A. Pinheiro, Jr.

Group of Black men sitting on lumber and standing in pose for a group photograph.

“I remember that Jasper Gray told me that he had herded sheep in Australia”

In 1906, Oscar Nelson, a local African American living in Tennessee, provided testimony on the extraordinary life of Jasper Gray, a United States Colored Troops (USCT) veteran, of the Thirty-First United Colored Infantry (USCI). Gray was a man whose entire life—in bondage and freedom—was one of constant physical movements and ...
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Group of African American in outdoor setting

Contested Freedoms: Black Life in Texas During Juneteenth

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden, with the stroke of a pen, cemented Juneteenth as a federal holiday in the United States. The momentous occasion was long overdue. Modern advocates, including Ralph Abernathy Lula Briggs Galloway, publicly reignited attention to the importance of Juneteenth to honor the lives of ...
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We’ve Always Been Here: Rediscovering African American Families in the U.S. Census

We’ve Always Been Here: Rediscovering African American Families in the U.S. Census

When I initially began examining United States Colored Troops (USCT) soldiers, I primarily focused on Civil War pension records. As previously noted, these rich primary sources can illuminate the forgotten lives of African Americans in many ways but do not (nor does any single historical record) tell the whole story ...
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Black Families’ Unending Fight for Equality: Teaching Civil War Pension Records

Black Families’ Unending Fight for Equality: Teaching Civil War Pension Records

When teaching the history of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), students often ask how we can find historical records from these historically marginalized people? Since many of the soldiers were working poor and formerly enslaved, they did not have (for various reasons) the time, resources, or (in some cases) ...
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