Juneteenth: Take a trip along the historic Emancipation Trail

In honor of Juneteenth, follow in the footsteps of the newly freed slaves as Houston Life’s Enrique Ramirez take you along the Emancipation Trail -- the route so many families took as they journeyed out of Galveston to start their new lives. Find out what's being done now to preserve the history of that journey.

HOUSTON – In honor of Juneteenth, follow in the footsteps of the newly freed slaves as Houston Life’s Enrique Ramirez takes you along the Emancipation Trail -- the route so many families took as they journeyed out of Galveston to start their new lives.

The emancipation trail tells a story, the story of Juneteenth, and like every story, you have to start from the beginning. This story begins in Galveston, Texas at Pier 21.

“When the colored troops came on shore and Gordon Granger joined them, that was the first place that they stopped to let people know that they were free, and that happened on June 19th, 1865,” said Tanya Debose, our guide on this fifty-mile journey through history.

“What this trail does is that it allows the emancipation stories of the people that were formerly enslaved to be able to tell their stories. What happened? what did they do? what type of contributions did they make to Houston to Galveston?” she said.

Along the trail in Galveston, each spot is marked and labeled with a brief description signifying the importance, it played on the trail; most of these stops are within walking distance in the historic strand district of Galveston. But it is here at the Juneteenth legacy office where you will spend most of your time.

“There you will be able to see the absolute equality mural. When you take your phone and you click on that mural it opens up and tells you stories; every scene in that mural tells you a story,” said Debose.

Other stops include the site of the union headquarters, the U.S. customs house, Reedy chapel, and Ashton Villa.

“Go and visit those places because they have great stories to tell, their environment is still intact, and you’ll get a lot of wealth of knowledge by visiting those areas,” she said.

Our next stop on the trail was Houston, Texas.

“Key sights in Houston, you want to go to Emancipation Park because they formerly enslaved people who attended Antioch church in the Fourth Ward area-- literally saved up enough money and bought the first public park in Texas, and that is Emancipation Park,” said Debose who also mentioned the Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church, where people still go to church.

“People still come on Sunday mornings to worship. many of the people who still go to this church are descendants of the original people who started this church,” she said.

College Memorial Park Cemetery is another important place along the trail.

“There are so many important people who are buried here, but also so many regular people. People like the reverend Henry ‘Jack’ Yates. He was one of the ones who really got a lot of the churches, schools, and businesses started for African Americans in this area,” she explained.

To see the complete interview and find out what’s being done now to preserve the history of that journey, watch the video above.