History of Juneteenth in Galveston

Galveston, Texas, holds a special place in the history of Juneteenth.

Known as the birthplace of this significant day, it was here that General Granger issued General Order No. 3, declaring freedom for slaves. This proclamation was a momentous occasion, symbolizing a long-awaited liberation for thousands of African Americans who had endured years of enslavement.

9 foot tall bronze statue of Ashton Villa to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday in Galveston TX
Experience the History of Juneteenth in Galveston
Juneteenth Galveston logo with fist over image of the state of Texas. Logo reads "Where it all began"
Birthplace of Juneteenth
Celebrating Black History & Culture in Galveston

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.

Understanding Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This significant event has evolved into a day of reflection, celebration, and education about African American history and culture.

The National Juneteenth Flag: Colors and Shapes

The National Juneteenth Flag is rich with symbolism, each element representing a piece of the African American journey to freedom:

  • Red, White, and Blue: The flag's colors mirror the American flag, signifying that the formerly enslaved and their descendants are Americans.
  • Star: The five-pointed star in the center represents Texas, the Lone Star State, where the last enslaved African Americans were informed of their freedom. It also symbolizes freedom for African Americans in all 50 states.
  • Bursting Star: The bursting outline around the star signifies a new beginning for African Americans and the spread of freedom and justice across the nation.
  • Arc: The curve extending across the width of the flag symbolizes a new horizon and new opportunities for African Americans.

The Color Red: A Culinary Tradition

In Juneteenth celebrations, the color red holds special significance, particularly in food and drink:

  • Symbol of Resilience and Sacrifice: The color red is often associated with the blood shed by African American ancestors during slavery and their enduring spirit.
  • Traditional Foods: Red foods and beverages like red velvet cake, strawberry soda, and watermelon are staples in Juneteenth festivities. These foods honor the cultural heritage and collective memory of the African American community.
  • Connection to African Traditions: The preference for red can be traced back to West African cultures, where red symbolizes strength, spirituality, and life force.