Juneteenth celebrates the official end of slavery. Although slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, Texans were not aware of the proclamation until June 19, 1865, almost two and a half years later. This is because officials of the confederate army schemed to continue the war and resisted the freeing of slaves by suppressing information of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to the public.
It was not until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Bay and issued General Order No. 3 – Emancipation. Thus was the beginning of Juneteenth in Texas.
For the next 114 years, informal Juneteenth celebrations were held. To ensure that these unofficial Juneteenth celebrations would continue, many African American communities around Texas moved festivities to private property. The lands purchased were called “emancipation grounds.” Emancipation Park in East Austin is an example of such a location.
The first official Juneteenth Celebration in Austin was held in 1930 at Rosewood Park. In 1978, State Representative Al Edwards, from Houston, wrote legislation and lobbied for the passage of a bill to make June 19 a legal state holiday. On June 13, 1979, the bill was signed into law, making Juneteenth the first official African-American holiday in the United States. Below is a list of this year’s Juneteenth events happening in and around Austin.
Friday, June 18
21ST ANNUAL TRAVIS COUNTY & CITY OF AUSTIN EMPLOYEES JUNETEENTH EVENT @ Wooldridge Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hosted by Travis County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe and Commissioner Ron Davis, festivities include food, arts and crafts booths.
FONTAINE CHURCHES EXHIBITION This event will display photographs of six historic churches founded by the Rev. Jacob Fontaine. There will be a presentation, followed by a reception. 3-5pm @ George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina, 974-7390. Free. www.cityofaustin.org
SOUNDS OF FREEDOM Austin Community College will host “Sounds of Freedom: ACC’s Musical Celebration of Juneteenth” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 18, 2010, in the courtyard of Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville Rd. The public is invited to bring picnic baskets and blankets to relax on the lawn and enjoy live performances by multi-faceted artists and some of Austin’s finest hip-hop musicians. All events are free; food and other refreshments will be available.
Saturday, June 19
JUNETEENTH GREEN AND CLEAN NEIGHBORHOOD PROJECT Join the Juneteenth Committe, G.E.A.Y.A and Community Volunteers to clean the streets of East Austin along Chicon and 12th Street. Visit the Juneteenth Committee or G.E.A.Y.A. websites for more information.
2K FREEDOM RUN/WALK This fun run follows the Juneteenth parade route. The main goal of the run is to help raise awareness on African-American health-related issues. Proceeds go to the Greater East Austin Youth Association. Run begins 9:30 a.m. at Comal Street and MLK. Registration fee $25. For more information please call 671-0873 or visit online @ www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com
JUNETEENTH HISTORICAL PARADE Festivities begin 10 a.m. at 12th & MLK, parade runs down Chicon and ends at Rosewood Park, home of the Juneteenth celebration (1182 Pleasant Valley). For more information visit www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com
HONORING OUR LEGACY AT CARVER The George Washington Carver Museum and Culture Center will be having various family activities from 10 am – 4 pm. Activities include friendship bracelet and puppet making. Additionally, the Abundant Life Dance troupe will perform followed by a presentation by Deborah Orr of her book, The Little Cornbread Girl. Finally, there will be a puppet show to close out the afternoon. The George Washington Carver Museum is located at 1165 Angelina. For more information call 974-1010 or visit www.cityofaustin.org.
JUNETEENTH HISTORICAL COMMUNITY PROGRAM 1pm – 3pm @ Doris Miller Auditorium, 2300 Rosewood Ave.
ATX JUNETEENTH MUSIC FESTIVAL Held at Waterloo Park on Saturday, June 19 from 1pm – 10pm. Sponsored and supported by the City of Austin, KAZI 88.7 FM, Austin American Statesman, Austin Travis County Integral Care, and Capital Metro, in conjunction with the Situational Leadership Program. Festival lineup will showcase: Nook, T-Byrd, Lo-1, and Baby Ju, Frank Gomez Band, Monte Carlo, Kris Keyz and Band,CassFlo, Jackyee, John Washington and the D. C. Blues Band, and HOT WAX. Admission is free. For more information visit www.atxjuneteenth.com.
JUNETEENTH PARK CELEBRATION 1pm – 10pm, celebration starts with speeches and poetry, followed by the praise dance competition. Additionally, there will be an art exhibitions, three stages of music, historical skits, and activities for the kids. Located at Rosewood Park & Recreation Center, 2300 Rosewood, admission is free. For more information call or 472-6838 or visit www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com.
7TH ANNUAL ALVIN PATTERSON BATTLE OF THE BANDS & DRUMLINE 6:00 pm @ Nelson Field, 7200 Berkman Dr., Austin, TX 78702. Thousands attend this annual event, so get your tickets early.
FRESH BLACK PAINT EXHIBITION OPENING Entitled “Tightrope Realities,” this exhibit features eight artists. Opening reception from 7-10 pm at the New East Arts Gallery, 1601 E. 5th Street #106. For more information call 477-9438 or visit www.diversearts.org.
JUNETEENTH RHYTHM AND RIBS FESTIVAL The Baca Centre—Round Rock Amphitheatre, Round Rock, TX.
JUNETEENTH AFTER PARTY 9pm – 2am @ Tres Amigos, 7535 East Highway 290. $10. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Greater East Austin Youth Association. For more information call 762-7373 or visit www.playdateaustin.com.By Katie Warner