While Juneteenth became a federal holiday only last year and state holiday in 1980, in the Gulf Coast region, locals have been celebrating since 1865. The cherished holiday marks the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston and declared to the slaves there that they had been freed.
Sadly it took two years for news that President Abraham Lincoln has issued the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation to reach area slaves. But rather than react with anger at the delay, they immediately toasted the discovery that they were free with dance, feasts, prayers, and more.
Here in Houston and Galveston, a host of Juneteenth-themed events abound. CultureMap news partner ABC13 will televise and stream the Juneteenth Parade and Emancipation Park 150th Juneteenth Weekend Festival (Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19).
The event celebrates the story of Jack Yates, an slave who raised $1,000 to purchase the 10 acres of land that is now Emancipation Park. Look for musicians and entertainers Earnest Pugh, Zacardi Cortez, Monica Lisa Stevenson, and Pastor Mike, the Isley Brothers, Kool & the Gang, and Frankie Beverly and Maze.
Celebrate the momentous and historic day with these lively events that include parades, treats, music, art, comedy, and more.
Friday, June 17
40 Acres will host a four-day, Juneteenth Weekend Extravaganza, filled with a bevy of events. We're talking about a for-the-culture game night, a cookout where fathers can get a free meal, painting, a know-to-vote lunch for felons and first-time voters, etc. 11 am.
The Cupcake Kitchen Houston, a Black female-owned bakery and soul food restaurant in Third Ward, will offer special dishes all weekend at $6.19. They will have "Juneteenth Sweets & Eats" specials, including Southern grilled oxtail quesadillas and homemade banana pudding. Noon.
Home2 Suites By Hilton Houston Pearland will host a weekend-long, Black Girls Rule Juneteenth Freedom Ride. Join BGR for a weekend of sisterhood and fellowship, as they ride in and around Houston in celebration of freedom. 4 pm.
POST Houston will be the spot for the Juneteenth Freedom Weekend, an in-person/live stream experience that will combine cashflow, community, and culture in an entertaining festival setting. (POST will also host the Black Is Primary Juneteenth Festival on Saturday.) 4 pm.
The DeLuxe Theater will celebrate Juneteenth and Black Music Month with a film screening of the award-wining film Memory Builds the Monument. This short documentary highlights the cultural and social challenges of African-American Houstonians in the '40s, '50s, and '60s. 7 pm.
Phil & Derek's Restaurant & Jazz Lounge will host the Father's Day and Juneteenth Weekend Comedy Jamz. Enjoy cocktails with the old man as Ray Etc and Larry A. Goodwell serve as the evening's comedy headliners. 7:30 pm.
Saturday, June 18
Start off the day with Mayor Turner’s Annual Acres Homes Juneteenth Parade. Parade begins at Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, travels north on W. Montgomery, west on Dolly Wright and ends at Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church. 9 am.
Children's Museum Houston will be honoring Juneteenth with drumming, storytelling, dramatization, interactive activities and so much more. And don't forget about the special appearances from author Jatrean Sanders and Black Panther! 10 am.
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum invites you to celebrate Juneteenth with them. Enjoy a live art session with artist/art professor Lauren Luna, tours, Living History Tours, a live DJ, food truck and a cash bar. Noon.
The Juneteenth celebration at the historic Hopewell Rosenwald School will include an open house/tour of the school. There will be a sampling of foods (including barbecue and potato salad), games for the entire family, and former students from throughout the county are invited to share their oral history. Noon.
Over at Club Sienna's Juneteenth Jubilee, Reggie Jamz will perform Motown and R&B classics, and artist ANGE will give a speed painting performance. A variety of food trucks will be on-site and local vendors will have candles, clothing, jewelry, tea, children’s books, and more for sale. 6 pm.
713 Music Hall will have a Juneteenth HBCU Alliance Music Fest & Scholarship Benefit, featuring Wale, Lucky Daye, Chrisette Michele and others. All proceeds will go to the TSU & PV National Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. 7:30 pm.
Sunday, June 19
The Plant Project will have a Juneteenth celebration rich with history, heritage, and plenty of plants. The free, family-friendly event will focus on sharing the important cultural history of June 19th and ways to create a greener tomorrow. 11 am.
BLCK Market will present a its third annual Juneteenth celebration at East River HTX. Experience the culture with their unique vendors (100 small black businesses and entrepreneurs will be on hand), live music and food trucks. 1 pm.
Buddy's Houston will hold a Juneteenth Black Pride Drag Brunch. Tamar Jazelle Paris will host not one, but two most-likely-to-be-fierce drag shows, while Chef Tae will serve up the amazing food. 1 pm.
MacGregor Park will be the location for the Juneteenth Slabs N Crawfish Fest. Spend Juneteenth (and Father's Day) checking out all the fly rides, while also chowing down on some choice mudbugs. 3 pm.
Desert Door will present a proclamation dinner that will celebrate Juneteenth and include a special listening session of Youth Soul Love's latest album, MADE. This event will feature a gourmet meal and high tea created by Chef Vicky, as well as curated cocktails. 6 pm.
Juneteenth: The Journey To Freedom will play over at Miller Outdoor Theatre. It's a performance filled with dramatic visuals, live music, narrations, and dance that tells the story of African Americans from 1865 to today and their journey to the celebration of freedom. 8:30 pm.