Traveling exhibition “Free at Last!” comes to Delta Heritage Center

Traveling exhibition “Free at Last!” comes to Delta Heritage Center

Traveling exhibition “Free at Last!” comes to Delta Heritage Center


“Free at Last!” tells the momentous story of the transition from slavery to freedom and the development of citizenship among formerly enslaved African Americans. The exhibition is free of charge and will be on display at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., Aug. 1-31.

Developed for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, “Free at Last! Emancipation and Reconstruction in Tennessee” was created by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and has been traveling the state since 2007. The exhibit consists of panels focused on each of Tennessee’s three grand divisions. Two panels provide an overview of emancipation and Reconstruction in Tennessee.

“Our goal was to provide sites with a concise, well-illustrated introduction to the significance of emancipation and the agency of slaves in bringing about their freedom,” says Antoinette van Zelm, assistant director at the Center for Historic Preservation.
The West Tennessee panels emphasize the connection between the Union army’s advance along the Mississippi River, the escape of thousands of slaves to Union lines, and the systematic establishment of contraband camps under Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. These panels are based on the Master’s thesis research of Center for Historic Preservation graduate research assistant Cheri LaFlamme Szcodronski.

More than 40 venues across Tennessee have hosted the exhibit thus far. Panels on East Tennessee look at the region’s legacy of emancipation before the Civil War and consider how emancipation has been remembered in the region since the war. The Middle Tennessee panels highlight the development of Unionism among enslaved Tennesseans and underscore the significance of education and citizenship during Reconstruction.

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area receives funding from the National Park Service and is administered by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. For more information about the exhibition, please contact the Delta Heritage Center at 731-779-9000.

About the Center: The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers a refreshing Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and “wild” Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who call the West Tennessee Delta home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. Located along the Gold Record Road of the Americana Music Triangle, the Center is a music heritage destination. To learn more about the Center, visit or call 731-779-9000.

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