Juneteenth has been a Texas holiday since 1980, and last year Austin City Council declared it an official city holiday as well, meaning many city offices and services will be closed June 18 this year. The U.S. Senate has also passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, which is now in front of the U.S. House. Here is a roundup of the celebrations and holiday closures in Austin.
Juneteenth parade and festival
The celebration is a partnership between the Austin Area Urban League, Austin Justice Coalition, Black Austin Coalition, Carver Museum ATX, Greater East Austin Youth Association, Jump on it and Six Square.
The AJC described Juneteenth as "a tradition that runs deep and brings families together, and unites all Black people across the country as a day for us. A day when we feel, 'freeish.'"
The event begins with a parade at 10 a.m. down Chicon Street in East Austin and ending at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and Chestnut Avenue near Rosewood Park, where an all-day celebration will take place leading to fireworks at 9 p.m. According to a release from the city, the fireworks will be viewable from the park area where the festivities will occur.
The celebration is back in person this year after it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"Juneteenth represents a chance for Black Austin to come together to celebrate what makes our community special. We’ve been organizing this parade for 18 years, and we are looking forward to getting back to a tradition that has been around for so long and is one of the few things in our community that really bring us together,” GEAYA Juneteenth chair Tami D. Johnson-Dawson said in a release.
More information about the celebration is available at www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com and www.juneteenthatx.com.
Other Juneteenth events
Montopolis historical marker designation and block party
The Montopolis Community Development Corp. will unveil the first historical market in the neighborhood June 18 at 11 a.m. at the Burditt Prairie Cemetery, the oldest African American cemetery in Austin.
The cemetery is located at 6700 Felix Ave., and a block party will take place after the dedication at the nearby Montopolis Practice Fields, 901 Vasquez St., from noon to 4 p.m.
"The history of this community is priceless," MCDC President Fredd McGhee said in a release. "With gentrification destroying the heritage of entire Austin neighborhoods, community-based protection, preservation and perpetual care matter now more than ever."
Juneteenth social bike ride
Last year, Austin resident Talib Abdullahi conceived of the idea for the Black History Bike Ride. What he initially thought would be a few dozen friends joining him on a tour of Black Austin's history ended up with more than 400 masked attendees joining on the ride.
Abdullahi will lead a Black History Bike Ride at 10 a.m. June 19 through sites in Austin including the Haskell House in Clarksville, the statue of Barbara Jordan, Huston-Tillotson University and Victory Grill.
“Really the hope for the ride on June 19th and for these rides in general is to create a conversation where one hadn’t been before. By helping educate people of all backgrounds in our community about Black history we are able to show that we still have a ways to go as a society in terms of bringing equity and inclusion to all spaces," Abdullahi said in a release.
Participants will meet at the Texas African American Memorial on the Capitol grounds to start the ride.
UT's LBJ School hosts a webinar
The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Center for Study of Race and Democracy will bring together a number of scholars and historians to discuss the meaning and significance of Juneteenth.
The event will be moderated by Peniel Joseph, the founding director of the CSRD, and will feature a keynote address from Annette Gordon-Reed, a law and history professor at Harvard University who won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for her book "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family." Free registration is available here.
This is the first time the city of Austin will recognize Juneteenth as an official city holiday after passing a resolution last year. All Austin Public Library branches will be closed June 18-19. The Austin Animal Center will also close June 18 but will reopen June 19.
Unaffected city services that will continue as scheduled include trash and recycling pickup; parks and recreation facility openings such as pools, golf courses and tennis centers; and COVID-19 vaccine sites. Austin Public Health staff and volunteers will be at Rosewood Park and Givens Park on June 19 to offer free COVID-19 vaccines.