HOUSTON – Emancipation Park has served as Houston’s first park rooted with rich history that ties back to slavery. In 1872, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, Jack Yates, and Elias Dibble together bought 10 acres of parkland with $800. In 1998, the Parks to Standards program resulted in extensive renovations. Through the early years of the Twenty-first Century, several community organizations worked to raise funds for a major renovation for Emancipation Park. On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the OST/Almeda Redevelopment Corridors TIRZ#7, Emancipation Park Conservancy and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department rededicated Emancipation Park after an extensive renovation process. Park improvements include the construction of a new recreation center, the renovation of the existing community center and bath house, the construction of a new swimming pool, reconfigured parking options, an entry plaza, a spray ground, playground, walking trail, and picnic areas. Tennis and basketball courts and a ball field round out the park amenities.
The end of the Civil War resulted in a dramatic reorganization of society throughout the former Confederacy, including new freedom for the slaves. President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation and published it on January 1, 1863, but it did not reach Texas for two years. It wasn’t until General Granger proclaimed it in Galveston on June 19, 1865, that Texas got the news. The anniversary of the day took on festive traditions and a new name: it came to be known as Juneteenth which has been celebrated at Emancipation Park for decades and will continue this June 19, 2021 with their virtual celebration. Click here to find out more about this year’s celebration and how you can get involved in the park’s rich history.