The Birthplace of Juneteenth: Galveston Celebrates Emancipation through Art, Special Events

As the birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston offers visitors the chance to experience our country’s newest federal holiday in living color.

From its many historic sites and tours that chronicle the day Juneteenth began in Galveston, to its annual Juneteenth festival, special events and new art exhibits, Galveston is the place to commemorate June 19, 1865 – the historic day slavery was abolished in Texas, freeing one of the last groups of slaves in the United States.

Juneteenth historical marker found in Galveston TX

See The Full Juneteenth Calendar of Events Here

Here’s a look at some of the Juneteenth attractions and festivities taking place in Galveston this year:

“Juneteenth Freedom Project” Art Exhibition

Location: 2217 Strand St., Suite 101

Leaders in Galveston have opened a new exhibition that uses art to chronicle the African American journey to freedom in Texas. “The Juneteenth Freedom Project” features more than 60 art pieces by local and regional artists that document Black experiences in America from the 1500s to the present day.

The project’s featured artist, Houston-based Ted Ellis, is a nationally recognized talent and the only African American artist appointed by the U.S. Department of the Interior to serve on the federal 400 Years of African American History Commission. Housed at the NIA Cultural Center Juneteenth Legacy Project headquarters, the new art exhibition is free to the public and includes a guided tour by a local historian.

The new art exhibition is open from 10AM to 3PM Tuesdays through Fridays and 12PM to 6PM Saturdays through Sundays at the organization’s headquarters at 22nd and Strand streets.

Guided Juneteenth Freedom Walk Tours

What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than to walk in the footsteps of freedom that occurred on this historic day? Galveston’s Juneteenth Freedom Tours, led by a local “memory keeper,” will take visitors on a journey to see the sites of emancipation where Major General Gordon Granger read the historic General Order No. 3 in Galveston.

Click the image to learn more and to take a virtual Freedom Walk Tour.

Tickets are $20. To reserve a spot, call (409) 256-3822. Organized by the Juneteenth Legacy Project, tours will take place at various times:

Saturday, June 11th & 18thSunday, June 12th & 19thMonday, June 20th
9:00AM, 10:30AM, 12PM, 1:30PM12PM, 1:30PM and 3:00PM12PM, 1:30PM and 3:00PM

Emancipation Celebration at The Grand 1894 Opera House

Location: 2020 Postoffice St.

Join the Nia Cultural Center on June 17 for an Emancipation Celebration at The Grand 1894 Opera House. The event will honor pioneers on the national and local levels who have made their mark by fighting for freedom, equality, and justice for African Americans. This recognition will be highlighted with awards, and gospel performances from local, regional, and national talent.

The Emancipation Celebration features GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Marvin Sapp, known for countless hits including “Never Would Have Made It,” “The Best in Me,” and more. He will be joined by gospel legend Neal Roberson, one of the impressionable Men of God of the new millennium, but an individual in his own right. For full event details, click here.

The Emancipation Celebration kicks off at 7:00 p.m. with a special performance by the Galveston Youth Heritage Chorale led by June Collins Pulliam.

"Juneteenth: The Galveston Story" at MG 3D Theater at Moody Gardens

This documentary film features stories about Juneteenth as told by prominent Galveston County community members and family members of the people who were there in 1865. Learn some of these stories during this film which will be screened on the largest screen in Texas!

Juneteenth: The Galveston Story - Trailer

Showing in the MG 3D Theater at Moody Gardens on June 19, 2022.

Showtimes: 11AM, 3PM, 6:40PM. The film screening is free, but there is a $4.00 convenience charge per transaction. Click here to learn more.

Galveston Juneteenth Festival & Parade

When: Saturday, June 18 from 12PM-8PM
McGuire Dent Recreational Center at Menard Park (2222 28th St.)

This free event will feature various family activities, including live music, food vendors, a Black artist art walk exhibition, a youth basketball tournament and more! Also on June 18, Galveston’s annual Juneteenth Parade & Picnic will take place.

Parade Route: Starts at 26th and Avenue H – Ends at 41st and Avenue H Picnic will immediately follow at Wright Cuney Park (718 41st Street).

Parade: 1PM - 2PM, Picnic: 2PM - 5PM

Absolute Equality Mural & Juneteenth Jubilee

The much-anticipated “Absolute Equality” mural, which illustrates the journey of Black Americans out of slavery into freedom, is one of the newest additions to Galveston’s rich history-focused attractions. 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, launched during Black History Month 2021 to help raise awareness about Juneteenth and contribute to the push to make Juneteenth a national holiday (a feat accomplished that year).

Absolute Equality Mural honoring the Juneteenth holiday in Galveston TX

On June 20, the NIA Cultural Center will host a Juneteenth Jubilee from 3-6PM in front of the mural. The event will feature historic re-enactments, live entertainment and speakers. This event is completely free and open to the public. For more info, click here.

Webinar: Juneteenth Galveston - Where it all Began

In this free webinar, participants will learn from local historians and organizations who preserve and safeguard the history, events, stories and memories centered around this important day in the nation’s history. Hear from Visit Galveston and its partners at the Texas Historical Commission, Galveston Historical Foundation, Old Central Cultural Center, Texas A&M University and the Bryan Museum as they bring these stories to life. The webinar will take place at 2 p.m. on June 15.

Click the graphic above to register for the webinar.
Juneteenth Birthplace

The Reedy Chapel A.M.E. Church's Emancipation 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. This year’s event will take place at 6 p.m. June 19. The march will begin at the Old Galveston Customs and Courthouse (1918 Postoffice Street) and will end at the church (2013 Broadway Avenue).

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Juneteenth Birthplace

Ashton Villa (2328 Broadway Avenue) is the site where the community commemorates the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. This year, the event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18. The event is free to attend and honors the legacy of Rep. Al Edwards, the principal proponent of the Juneteenth Texas state holiday, and later Federal holiday.

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The Birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston Island holds a special place in United States and African American history. But the richness of this history goes well beyond celebrating Emancipation.

From being home to the first historically African American secondary school and public library in Texas to being the hometown of World Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson, Galveston has long fought to preserve the knowledge of African American accomplishments and heritage on the island, holding dear the many historic sites and monuments that live on to tell the story.

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“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." UNION GENERAL GORDON GRANGER

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