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Commemorating Juneteenth 2024 in Houston and Galveston

Natalie
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Today, Wednesday, June 19th, is Juneteenth, the federal holiday that marks the day when enslaved African Americans were officially freed in Galveston on June 19, 1865. More than 2,000 federal troops arrived on the island two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. General Order No. 3 was issued by General Gordon Granger and freed 250,000 slaves remaining in Texas. In 2021, Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday; it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980.

It is important to continue to celebrate the legacy and impact of Juneteenth and African American culture. Here are some ways to commemorate the day in Houston and in Galveston:  

Juneteenth Events in Houston 

Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Emancipation Park  
Emancipation Park, the city’s oldest park, was purchased by four former slaves for $800 in 1872. Today, the park is owned by the city, and is still the site of Juneteenth celebrations. Emancipation Park has been hosting a series of celebrations. Today, the park hosts Juneteenth Family Fun Day, a family-friendly event that will include a vendor market, food trucks, a live DJ, and a mobile gaming trailer. The event will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and it is free to attend. 

Children’s Museum Houston

Children’s Museum Houston honors the legacy of African American contributions with their Juneteenth celebrations. Visitors explore the Juneteenth Champions Art Exhibition, which pays tribute to 29 influential African Americans, some living, some passed, and their mark on society. 

Juneteenth Celebration at Children’s Museum Houston 
Children’s Museum Houston is celebrating Juneteenth with several interactive exhibits, such as encouraging visitors to help paint a vibrant Community Mural, honoring the legacy of African American contributions. Visitors can also explore the Juneteenth Champions Art Exhibition, which pays tribute to 29 influential African Americans, some living, some deceased, and their mark on society. The Juneteenth celebration takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is included in the cost of general admission, $19.95.

Kinsey

Holocaust Museum Houston will celebrate Juneteenth with free admission, courtesy of H-E-B, on Wednesday, June 19, and their hours will be extended from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Experience The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, as well as the Museum’s permanent galleries. 

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection at Holocaust Museum Houston 
The Kinsey Collection is located at Houston’s Holocaust Museum and celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. Outside of the Smithsonian Institution, it is considered one of the most comprehensive collections of African American history and culture. This exhibit runs through June 23. On June 19th, the museum hours will be extended from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with free admission, but visitors must reserve a ticket. 

Juneteenth: An Elevated Kickback Experience 
Hosted at the Freedmen’s Town Visitor Center, this event is a fusion of history, art, music, and cuisine, designed to honor the significance of Juneteenth. It will also include educational engagement, family-friendly activities, games, and food. This event is from 4-8 p.m. and is free. 

Juneteenth Tea Cakes and Tours

The Heritage Society hosts Juneteenth Tea Cakes and Tours. Participants will learn the stories behind the Reverend Jack Yates house, a plantation, and a Fourth Ward Cottage.

Juneteenth Tea Cakes and Tours 
Hosted by The Heritage Society, visitors are invited to tour three historic Black houses with tea cakes and punch. Participants will learn the stories behind the Reverend Jack Yates house, a plantation, and a Fourth Ward Cottage. The tour times are 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. and general admission tickets are $17.

Juneteenth Events in Galveston

Juneteenth historical marker

The Juneteenth historical marker is located on 2201 Strand Street in Galveston. One of over 200 markers on the island, the marker honors the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abe Lincoln and was sponsored by the Texas Historical Commision. (Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB)  

45th Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration 
Visitors are invited to hear the reading of General Order No. 3 at the Ashton Villa in Galveston, where the city’s official Juneteenth marker and statue is placed. This year, it honors the legacy of Representative Al Edwards, who was the lead proponent of the Juneteenth Texas state holiday. The reading will begin at 10 a.m. and is free to attend.

Juneteenth Family Fun Day, Honoree Recognition and Emancipation March  
The Reedy Chapel AME Church hosts the island’s historic tradition of Juneteenth celebrations as freed slaves marched from the Galveston county courthouse to this church in 1865. The event will begin at 1 p.m. and ends with the Emancipation March at 6 p.m. at the courthouse. At 3 p.m., civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the family of Henrietta Lacks will be recognized for their legal victory in recognizing Lack’s contribution to cancer research. Free to attend.

Humanities Texas “Juneteenth” Exhibition 
Visitors to Galveston’s Nia Cultural Center are invited to view the new Juneteenth exhibit presented by Humanities Texas. This exhibit showcases the context and effects of General Order No. 3, which informed enslaved people they had been freed. This free exhibit will be on display through July 28 and is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Year-Round in Galveston

 To learn more about Juneteenth and African American history, explore these year-round opportunities in Galveston:

Freedom Walk Tour 
This free self-guided tour guides participants through the five historic sites that played an important role in the events that led to Juneteenth. Here is the tour map.

“And Still We Rise…” Exhibit at Ashton Villa
This interactive exhibit guides visitors through the context and consequences of the events of Juneteenth from 1865 to the present. This exhibit is located in the carriage house of the Ashton Villa. This exhibit has special hours for the month of June, but is typically open Friday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and general admission is $10.

Juneteenth and Beyond Guided Tours
These tours are Galveston’s first African American guided tour franchise and provide visitors an opportunity to experience the heritage and importance of Juneteenth and its history. The tours need to be booked and purchased in advance through their website. Tickets are $35.


The "Absolute Equality" Mural in Galveston. The mural, unveiled in 2021, intends for us to reconsider the role of monuments and memorials in telling significant moments in American history. (Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB) 

Absolute Equality Mural
This 5,000 square foot mural was created by Houston artist Reginald C. Adams on the side of the Old Galveston Square Building on the Strand. This mural illustrates the journey of Black Americans from slavery into freedom.
 
Editor’s note: For more on the history of Emancipation Park, read Exploring Houston: Hidden Gems: Third Ward by Pooja Salhotra.

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