After more than 150 years, the city of Galveston has finally made Juneteenth an official city holiday.
This initiative was pushed by first-time councilman William Schuster, who is also a US history teacher for Galveston ISD.
Mayor Craig Brown said this acknowledgment was well overdue. Making it official means non-emergency city offices will be closed and city government employees will get a paid day off.
Several other cities and states have also begun to observe Juneteenth as an official holiday, including 45 states and Washington D.C.
Galveston is the birthplace of Juneteenth, marking the day that Black slaves in Texas were informed that they were free.
The official order was read through the city nearly 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War. Slaveowners in Texas, one of the farthest slave states, refused to acknowledge the end of slavery, and a few Union soldiers were called in to enforce it.
Also known as Emancipation Day, communities across the country often commemorate Juneteenth with parades, re-enactments, choir presentations and other events.
Some of the events planned in Galveston for Juneteenth include:
- The Juneteenth Legacy Project will dedicate its public art installation, “Absolute Equality,” on June 19 at 11:30 a.m. in Galveston. The public ceremony will feature a host of special guests important to the initiative. Special guests will include Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who are co-authoring legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
- The Juneteenth Parade will be on June 19 beginning at 1:00 p.m. This year the parade will begin at 26th and Ball and travel west on Ball to 41st Street ending at Wright Cuney Park. A picnic will follow the parade. The line-up begins at 11:00 a.m. on 26th Street between Ball and Post Office.