Local activists, historians, policymakers and philanthropists will celebrate Juneteenth in Galveston this year through a series of educational, festive events June 17 and June 19.
The Juneteenth Legacy Project, which aims to recontextualize the day and properly communicate its story and relevance, is hosting or advertising numerous events over the course of the holiday weekend, per the nonprofit’s website. Celebrated annually June 19, Juneteenth honors the day in 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger came to Galveston to announce the liberation of enslaved people in Texas—more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became official in 1863.
The celebrations kick off June 17 with two events sponsored by The Bryan Museum in Galveston. A screening of the 1998 film “Ruby Bridges” will take place starting at 7:15 p.m. on the lawn at the museum, which is located at 1315 21st St. There will also be an online “Hidden History” event starting at 7 p.m. June 17. Both are free to attend.
Juneteenth festivities start at 10 a.m. June 19 and continue through the evening. The day begins with the 42nd Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration at Ashton Villa, located at 2310 Broadway Ave. J, and concludes with a fireworks show. The show will start at 8:30 p.m. at 29th Street and Seawall Boulevard.
In between, various opportunities to learn about Juneteenth and honor the holiday will be available for area residents, including:
- the dedication of a public art installation, which will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the corner of 22nd Street and Strand Street in Galveston. The installation, called "Absolute Equality," spans across 5,000 square feet and will display four portals “depicting an evolutionary narrative,” per the nonprofit website;
- a history fair at the same location, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.;
- a drum call by Curt Gillins and live music from violinist Bruce Kirkwood, both directly before the art dedication at the same location;
- live music from B. Cole & The Zydeco Bulls at 22nd and Strand, 1:30-3:30 p.m.;
- a parade that begins at 1 p.m., from 26th Street and Ball Street to 41st Street and Ball Street;
- a festival at 1429 27th St. from 2-7 p.m.;
- a panel discussion at 4 p.m. at The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice St., Galveston, called “History, Slavery, and Emancipation: A Conversation on Juneteenth.”
- the discussion, sponsored by the University of Houston, will be facilitated by UH’s David McNally; it will include historian and Juneteenth Legacy Project Co-Chair Sam Collins III, and founder and director of The Slave Dwelling Project Joseph McGill Jr. The discussion will be livestreamed on YouTube by i45NOW; and
- Reedy Chapel’s Annual Historic Juneteenth March, which begins at 6 p.m. from the steps of the Old Galveston County Courthouse to the church at 2015 Broadway Ave.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said in 2020 that despite the fact Texas slaves were held for an additional 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth is a happy day in the U.S.
“We should explain to our neighbors, our friends, the diverse community, how devastating that was, but how strong we were,” she said in March 2020 of the events surrounding the first Juneteenth. “I want you to know that across the nation, they celebrate Juneteenth because it is a day of freedom and jubilee.”