Experience Galveston's Historic Connection With Juneteenth

This year marks the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, and Galveston has several events to celebrate its historic connection to this important holiday.

When you head to Galveston this summer, you’ll be coming home to where it all began as the island hosts festivities to celebrate Juneteenth – a holiday that originated in this historic beach town.

pictured: New "Absolute Equality" mural at 22nd & Strand.

Juneteenth “Absolute Equality” Mural Dedication

The much-anticipated “Absolute Equality” mural, which illustrates the journey of Black Americans out of slavery into freedom, will be dedicated during a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Juneteenth (June 19) in Galveston.

LIVE From "Absolute Equality" Mural in Downtown Galveston

About the "Absolute Equality" Mural

The 5,000-square-foot mural, created by Houston-based Reginald C. Adams, was painted on the side of the Old Galveston Square building, located at 22nd and Strand in downtown Galveston. The massive art installation is an initiative of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, which aims to raise awareness about Juneteenth and contribute to a growing push to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Juneteenth, or June 19, marks the day in 1865 that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, which announced the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas – one of the last groups of slaves to be freed in the United States.

Juneteenth Events
Juneteenth Events
Galveston Island Juneteenth Festival, Fireworks and More

The Galveston Island Juneteenth Festival will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 19 in the parking field at 2701 Ave L adjacent to Kermit Courville Stadium. The festival will feature music performances, food and vendors. Juneteenth fireworks sponsored by the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau will begin at 8:30 p.m. along 29th & Seawall on June 19.

Juneteenth Events
Galveston Juneteenth Parade

The Galveston Juneteenth parade will return in 2021. The parade will take place at 1 p.m. June 19, starting from 26th and Ball streets and ending at 41st and Ball streets. The parade will feature floats, marching bands, performers and other entertainment.

Juneteenth Events
Reedy Chapel's Annual Historic Juneteenth March

Reedy Chapel A.M.E. Church will commemorate its historic Emancipation March at 6 p.m. June 19. The march will begin from the steps of the Old Galveston County Courthouse to the church at 2015 Broadway Ave. The public is welcome to participate. This march reenacts the first celebration of emancipation that took place in Galveston on January 1, 1866. A diverse group of over 800 men, women and children took part in the historic processional.

Juneteenth Events
Emancipation Proclamation Reading at Ashton Villa

The Galveston Juneteenth Coalition will host the 42nd Annual Al Edwards Celebration with a reading of General Order No. 3 at 10:00 a.m. on June 19 at the historic Ashton Villa – the location of the island’s official Juneteenth holiday monument. The event is free to the public.

Take a Self-Guided African American History Tour

The birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston Island holds a special place in United States and African American history. The city is also home to the first historically black secondary school and public library in Texas, is the hometown of World Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson, and features several historically black churches that were established as firsts for Texas.

Tour on Your Terms

In Galveston, you can explore African American history in living color thanks to a new interactive tour app. The tour, found here, allows visitors to take a self-guided journey to learn about the island’s many historically black institutions and monuments celebrating black accomplishments.

Take The Tour

More Juneteenth Events

Galveston is the birthplace of Juneteenth and the home of many historical stories. In 2020, Juneteenth became very popular throughout the United States and many people were hearing this Galveston history story for the first time.

While Juneteenth was not always as popular, it has been important since June 19, 1865, and Galvestonians have been celebrating it ever since. The single-day celebration over the years has evolved into multiple-day events.

This year, local activities on the island begin on May 31st when 94-year-old Opal Lee returns to Galveston to walk over 2.5 miles to bring attention to making Juneteenth a national holiday. The walk begins at 7:30 am at 2702 Seawall and will end at 2201 Strand by the Juneteenth marker.

Saniya Gay, the 18-year-old 2020 National Miss Juneteenth, will be joining Mrs. Lee on Memorial Day. Saniya will also be visiting the local Galveston Miss Juneteenth pageant contestants.

The 24th annual Galveston Juneteenth banquet will be at 7 pm on June 1st at Old Central Cultural Center, 2627 Ave M, Galveston. Tickets are $40 each. Mary Patrick will be the guest speaker. For tickets and information call Pete Henley 409-392-0317.

The Galveston & Texas History Center is hosting a free virtual screening of a new Juneteenth Documentary film by Sam Collins III and Sam Addington on June 5th at 6 pm. Register for that here.

The 2021 Galveston Juneteenth Gala will be at 6:30 pm on June 10th at Ashton Villa, 2327 Broadway in Galveston. Tickets are $40 each. State Rep. Mayes Middleton will be the guest speaker. For tickets and information call Pete Henley 409-392-0317.

The Bryan Museum located at 1315 21st in Galveston is hosting a reception for the TEA Region 4 art winners of the Art of Equality contest on June 20th at 12pm. Artwork by the students will be displayed at the museum. Click here to learn more.

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Samuel Collins III, CTA

BOI, Historian and Advisor with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.