By Trishna Buch
According to an article by the Galveston Island Convention And Visitors Bureau Juneteenth’s official date is June 19. This was the date when, in 1865, enslaved people were freed after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was “read on a harbor pier in Galveston.” The freeing of the slaves and the reading of the proclamation took place more than two years after Lincoln had signed the proclamation into effect and, in 1980, Juneteenth was declared an official state holiday.
According to the GICVB the event is now celebrated by 40 states all around the country. Parades, festivals, picnics, concerts, exhibits and more mark the occasion which changed the lives of individuals across the state.
Although the official date of Juneteenth isn’t until Monday, events celebrating and honoring the occasion begin as early as today, Wednesday. Today morning, from 8:30am-noon, children between the ages of six and 18 will be able to attend an event hosted by the Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee. The event will include information about the Underground Railroad, a coded quilts exhibit and musical performance. Every attending child must have an adult accompanying them to 1838 Menard House in Galveston, where the event will take place. For more information, visit the GICVB website at galveston.com.
Thursday’s Juneteenth events kick off at noon with the College Of The Mainland holding a celebration commemorating the event, complete with a storytelling, poetry, music and a barbecue lunch. For more information on the celebration, call 409-933-8502 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On Thursday evening, Ashton Villa in Galveston will be hosting a gala honoring the event. The gala’s speaker will be James White, a current member of the Texas House of Representatives for district 19.
Despite the early start, the weekend is when the Juneteenth events really kick off. The first event is the Galveston Cajun Festival, a festival which—according to the GICVB website—“will celebrate the best of Texas-and Louisiana-styled food, family, fun and live entertainment—island style!” The festival runs throughout the weekend, from Friday to Sunday, at Kempner Park in Galveston, and will include food vendors, music and rides. For more information call 409-359-3045. But the festival isn’t the only Juneteenth event taking place on Friday, because the First Presbyterian Church in Galveston will be hosting “An Evening With Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr”, who will be discussing freedom and democracy. Glaude is a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University, along with being the university’s chair of the center for African American studies. The event starts at 6:00pm so make sure to mark it in your calendar! And, for more information, call the church at 409-762-8638. And at 7:00pm on Friday, for only $10, you can enjoy a poetry slam at Texas City’s Doyle Convention Center. The slam will feature the best poets in Texas, a red carpet, a competition and a live music social. For more information contact organizer Dedrick Johnson at 409-939-8102 or by emailing email@example.com.
On Saturday, residents can enjoy two Juneteenth parades, one of which starts at 3:00pm. This parade—which takes place at the Texas City High School—is part of a Juneteenth celebration the city is holding. The parade will start at Stingaree Stadium and end at Rainbow Park located at 800 Bay Street, where the celebration takes place beginning at 4:00pm.The celebration will include a barbecue cook-off, games, live music and more. The parade, which starts its line-up at 2:00pm, includes several awards for participants. For more information on the parade, call 409-949-3002.
Then, at 7:00pm starting at 17th and Strand streets in Galveston, and ending at Menard Park, Galveston will be holding its own Juneteenth parade. Guests will be able to enjoy the parade featuring entertainers, bands and floats—along with a fireworks show closing the event.
On Monday, the official day of Juneteenth, start your day at 8:30am with the 38th annual Al Edwards Emancipation Proclamation reading at Ashton Villa. Then, at 1:00pm, residents will have to choose between a golf tournament and a Juneteenth celebration. The tournament takes place at Texas City’s Bayou Golf Course, costs $75 per person, and is a great opportunity to spend time with friends, enjoy the weather and take part in the sport. For more information and to register call 409-949-3002. The celebration takes place at Jack Johnson Park in Galveston and will feature food, drinks and various forms of entertainment—including live music. Finally, end the day with the Juneteenth Historic March And Inspirational Program. According to the GICVB website, at 6:00pm, the Reedy Chapel A.M.E Church will be commemorating “the first known Juneteenth celebration in U.S history with its annual march from the steps of the Old Galveston County Courthouse to the church at 2015 Broadway Avenue.”
And, for information about Juneteenth events in your city, please contact your city hall or chamber of commerce.