Hence, the day in Texas has come to be called Juneteenth.
Although slaves were freed, they had been denied access to education during slavery, and education was hard to get following emancipation.
In Refugio, opportunities began to take shape when a building at the corner of Santiago and Osage opened as a school.
The structure was a shot-gun design to catch the breezes for cooling.
The school, also known as the Refugio Colored School, later moved to the corner of Alamo and King streets.
The school had no running water, so the students carried water from Osage Street for drinking purposes.
The class also gathered firewood during the winter months for heating the school, and the students were responsible for the maintenance of the building.
However, in 1927, the school burned.
Then, Professor A.T. Barefield arranged for classes to be held at the Bob Bunton Dance Hall. Also classes were held at the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church.
Back in 1917, Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck Company, had begin providing matching funds for African American schools in the South.
And by 1929, a new two-room stucco building was erected on East Commons Street through the Rosenwald school building program. It had 46 students enrolled that year.
The school was later named Barefield School after Professor Barfield, an educator in Refugio from 1902 to 1949.
In 1933, the school had 125 students.
Barfield was known for his promotion of education and good citizenship within the black community.
As the school’s attendance grew, its board of trustees approved to move one of the two-room buildings from the white school to the Negro school grounds.
The Rosenwald school no longer exists, but the 1933 addition still stands at Commons and Bayor streets.
The Barefield School was the only Rosenwald school in Refugio County and was a symbol of vision and progress for the community during the early 1900s.
The annual Willie O. Brown Sr. Juneteenth Celebration will be sponsored by the Refugio Community Cemetery Association and is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 21 at the Barefield Learning Center, the corner of East Commons and Bayou streets.
This year’s celebration also will feature a dedication of a historical marker for the Barefield School, effected by the Refugio County Historical Commission.
Special guest speaker for the event will be Refugio native Deartra Boone, who now resides in Louisville, Texas.
In addition, Gospel singing, games, food and fun are in store for all attending.