In 1820, exactly two hundred years ago, with the signing of The Treaty of Doak’s Stand, more than five million acres of Choctaw ancestral land in what is now Madison, County, MS was ceded to the United States. As a result, white planters flocked to the area forcing thousands of enslaved black people to migrate with them often leaving family members behind. A number of those planters originated in Bertie County, NC including John Johnston, who migrated there in 1820 and brought with him his body servant, who was her third paternal great grandfather, an enslaved man named March. Other planters from Bertie followed including Noah B. Hinton who brought with him over one hundred and twenty enslaved people among whom were Habeus and Mary, her great, great maternal grandparents.
Freddi Williams Evans is a native of Madison, MS located in Madison County, and she resides in New Orleans. She is internationally recognized for her scholarship on historic Congo Square and is the author of Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans, the first comprehensive study of the location, which received the 2012 Louisiana Humanities Book of the Year Award and is published in French. Her research and advocacy influenced the 2011 New Orleans City Council Ordinance that made the popular name “Congo Square” the official name of the location. Evans is also the author of three picture books: Hush Harbor - Praying in Secret, The Battle of New Orleans: The Drummer’s Story, and A Bus of Our Own.