Local photographer celebrates rich history of Freedmen’s Town

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HOUSTON, TX-- For photographer Ferrell Phelps, Freedmen's Town isn't just another name for the Fourth Ward. It's his roots.

PhelpspicThat's why he has created a photography exhibit that celebrates the rich history of the neighborhood. "Freedmen's Town was founded many years ago when freed slaves actually migrated into the city of Houston after the Emancipation Proclamation," he explains.

One of the last remnants from those days are the red brick streets, mostly covered over now. "They were actually formed, cured and laid in the streets by the former slaves," Phelps explains, "because the city of Houston at that time would not even pave the roads in that community."

Phelpspic1That's why the bricks are a theme throughout photographs Phelps has taken. Some recreate scenes of the 1800's or the Civil Rights days. Others are portraits of local Houston celebrities like Mayor Sylvester Turner, actresses Charnele Brown ("A Different World") and Deneen Tyler ("12 Years a Slave"), singer Archie Bell and former Astros player Eric Anthony.

The photos can been seen in an exhibit Saturday, June 18th at the Ensemble Theatre downtown. For more info or to purchase tickets, check out Phelp's Facebook page.

"I wanted to make sure that I left a piece of history for our people," says Phelps. "It's important that we know the shoulders on which we stand because when we do, we scan stand stronger. We can stand prouder."