Honoring Texas History this Juneteenth Holiday


(photo courtesy of Emancipation Park Conservancy by Mark Herboth)

Although the world is just discovering the significance of June 19th, we have long celebrated the day here in Houston. A blending of the words June and nineteenth, Juneteenth is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery and commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that slaves were emancipated in Texas. Here in Houston, less than a few miles away, Emancipation Park Conservancy has hosted a grand celebration for 149 years.

To honor this important holiday, our Midtown Management District Board Member and Chair of Cultural Arts, Charles Washington shared his perspective on recent news, history, and what this day means to him:

“The Senate recently passed a resolution making June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, General Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation legally freed slaves in the Southern states. 

In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday, which was celebrated with prayer meetings, singing spirituals, and wearing new clothes to represent newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans were celebrating Juneteenth in other Southern states, making it an annual tradition.

Growing up on the East Coast, I did not learn much about Juneteenth in school nor its significance to our history. It was not until I moved to Houston in the 80s that my new community taught me about the holiday. As a mixed media environmentalist artist in Houston, I take pride in being able to create thought-provoking art that speaks volumes on a variety of cultural, historical, and current subjects and believe that art and history combined is powerful in helping to educate the masses on a large scale. As artists, our goal is to inspire others and allow our creativity and businesses to be represented throughout this nation. My hope is that everyone takes this opportunity to learn, listen, and unite as this holiday is a celebration of freedom for all,” said Washington. 

To learn more about Charles Washington and his art gallery in Midtown Houston, visit harambeeartgalleryhtx.com. To register for Emancipation Park Conservancy’s Juneteenth events, click here.