Freedom provided opportunities for Black women to thrive in post-Juneteenth Galveston.

Did you know that Galveston Island was the site of one of the first six orphanages for Black children in early Texas history? In 1917, Albertine Hall Yeager founded the Yeager Children’s Home. In 1923, the organization purchased a large home on a site on 32nd Street.

Local authors Tommie D. Boudreaux and Alice M. Gaston explain in their book “African-Americans of Galveston” that Yeager and her husband, Charlie, opened a kindergarten for working mothers during World War 1. By 1931, the organization was a nonprofit orphanage that was serving 108 children a day.

Although the original building was replaced by a more modern building, the site is still owned and occupied by The Children’s Center. In 1988, the Galveston Children’s Home, the Lasker Home, the Albertine Yeager Children’s Home and the YWCA of Galveston merged to become The Children’s Center.

The Yeager Children’s Home became the Yeager Youth Crisis Center, taking over the work of the YWCA shelter. The Children’s Center evolved into child care, foster care and shelter care for youth.

Yeager Children’s Home distinguished itself in Texas by opening its doors to all children of all ethnicities. As the organization grew and evolved, the organization emerged as an opportunity for a multi-cultural collaboration on the island.

For example, one of The Children’s Center’s board chairs and guiding lights was the late Dr. Grace Jameson and her husband, Henry. Jameson, a renowned psychiatrist and pioneer in child and adolescent psychiatry, became instrumental in the adoption of modern, trauma-informed care for victimized children through the Jameson Center at The Children’s Center.

Jameson was civically active, served on many boards and served several terms as president of Temple B’nai Israel.

According to Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, rabbi emeritus of Congregation B’nai Israel, Jameson and her husband were very involved in civil rights activities on the island with a strong focus on equal educational opportunities for all members of the community.

The Children’s Center is in the planning stage of requesting a historical marker honoring Albertine Hall Yeager for the site in time for the next Juneteenth celebration in 2022. The organization also hopes to have another art project that will include the participation of the clients they serve.

Marsha Wilson Rappaport lives in Galveston.

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