This free two-day family program focuses on the appreciation and commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Guests explore the themes of freedom and family history through activities, immersive museum theatre performances and crafts.

In conjunction with the exhibition Barbecue Nation, a special highlight this year includes cooking demonstrations and a talk by author-chef Michael W. Twitty on African and African American food traditions in Southern barbecue.

Program Highlights:

The Cooking Gene, keynote lecture and book signing by Michael W. Twitty
Kennedy Theatre

In his 2017 memoir and New York Times bestseller, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, author, blogger, and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty took readers to the white-hot center of the debate over who “owns” Southern food. He traced the roots of his family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. Join Twitty for an engaging discussion with a book signing to follow.  

The Cooking Gene won the 2018 James Beard Foundation's Book Of The Year Award in April.

AfriGeneas, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Other Sites for Sore Eyes:  African American Genealogy Online
McElreath Hall, Member’s Room

While it is true that what’s available online is only the tip of the genealogy iceberg, the amount of information accessible from your home computer is staggering. Emma Davis-Hamilton, past president of the Atlanta Chapter of AAHGS (Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society), will offer tips, techniques, and strategies for navigating a few of the most helpful websites.  

The Order of Freedom: Meet the Past Museum Theatre Performance
Kennedy Theatre
12:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:45pm

Ever wondered about the history behind Juneteenth? Written by Atlanta History Center playwright, Addae Moon, The Order of Freedom explores the impact of the issuance of General Order No. 3, by General Gordon Granger, on June 19, 1865, and the challenges faced by Cora and James Lewis as they begin their journey from slavery to citizenship.

USCT Civil War Experience
Atlanta History Museum, inside Turning Point: The American Civil War exhibition
12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm

Take on the role of a real soldier who fought in the American Civil War for the United States Colored Troops and volunteered for duty in 1863. Presented with various real-life scenarios, you must make vital decisions that could affect your life and well-being.  

Mama Koku’s Stories
Exhibition Hallway
1:00pm, 2:00pm and 3:00pm 

Lean in, watch, and listen, as Atlanta Storyteller Mama Koku shares stories from freedom, through slavery, to sweet freedom again. If the spirit hits, she might ask you to come up on stage and help her tell it!    

Mary Elizabeth Bowser: Meet the Past Museum Theatre Performance
Smith Farmhouse, Smith Family Farm    
12:15pm, 1:15pm, 3:15pm, 4:00pm

On the Smith Farmhouse front porch, meet Union spy Mary Bowser. As a visitor you become a trusted confidant working for the estate of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Listen as Bowser shares her struggles of living a double life, as an educated free woman pretending to be an unassuming servant in order to capture vital information for Union forces.  

Freedom: Jubilee and Uncertainty: Meet the Past Museum Theatre Performance
Slave Cabin, Smith Farm
11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm

Jackson and Nicey are preparing for their future as newly liberated citizens by planning their own wedding.  On the eve of this momentous occasion, Nicey’s estranged sister, Ginny, returns with plans of her own. Journey with these three individuals as they explore the challenging options freedom provides.

Afterward, visit with the performers as they shed light on the complex history of enslavement and the Reconstruction era.  

Michael W. Twitty, Barbecue Nation Cooking Demonstrations 
Smith Kitchen, Smith Family Farm
Noon to 4:30pm

Join bestselling author and renowned culinary historian Michael Twitty as he demonstrates the rich history of African and African American food traditions in Southern barbecue.