When the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Pres. Abraham Lincoln went into effect at midnight on January 1, 1863, all people held as slaves in any state in rebellion against the U.S. were legally free.
But there was one hitch: the law only applied to enslaved people in states no longer under Confederate control. So it took more than two additional years for the 250,000 enslaved across Texas to become aware of their freedom, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865, and spread the good news.
Since that historic day, African Americans in Texas and across the country have commemorated Juneteenth – seen by many as America’s second Independence Day as it recognizes slavery’s end. Juneteenth National Independence Day is on its way to becoming an official federal holiday after earning Congressional approval just this week.
Given its deep Texan roots, hundreds of Juneteenth celebrations are held across the state each year. Interested in taking part? We’ve listed just a few no-cost events below that are happening this weekend in close proximity to many of our Texas Children’s locations and team members.
Central Texas Juneteenth Parade & Festival
10 a.m., Saturday, June 19
Rosewood Park + Historic East Austin
Annual event with a parade, entertainment and celebration with food and local vendors.
Juneteenth Weekend Celebration
6:30 p.m., Friday, June 18, and 5 p.m., Saturday, June 19
Town Square (Friday) / Bicentennial Park (Saturday)
Concerts, appearances and live performances.
20th Annual Juneteenth Festival
2 p.m., Saturday, June 19
Annual event with a live concert, kids activities, food trucks and free refreshments.
This year is the first time Galveston has made Juneteenth an official city holiday.
Juneteenth Legacy Project Mural Dedication
11:30 a.m., Saturday, June 19
Old Galveston Square Building
Dedication of the public art installation “Absolute Equality” in a ceremony featuring Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
Juneteenth Parade & Picnic
1 p.m., Saturday, June 19
Route begins at 26th and Ball, then moves west to 41st and ends at Wright Cuney Park; picnic in the park to follow.
Juneteenth in the 5th: Freedom of Expression Market
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 19
Historic DeLuxe Theater
Indoor/outdoor market featuring Black-owned businesses and vendors, live music and performances.
A Gulf Coast Juneteenth: Featuring Bobby Rush
8:30 p.m., Saturday, June 19
Miller Outdoor Theater
Tickets and more details available online.
Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration: Concert in the Park
6:30 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday, June 19
Hunters Glen Park
Annual concert celebration.