Who We Are
The Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization of Galveston Island, Texas... Read more.
|Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
Retrace Juneteenth History with Galveston Island’s
Public Reliations Manager
Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau
Office: (409) 797-5121
GALVESTON, Texas (June 18, 2021) – In celebration of Juneteenth, the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau is debuting its Freedom Walk Tour— an immersive experience that takes visitors on the march of freedom to the sites of emancipation where Major General Gordon Granger read the historic General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865.
The history of Juneteenth comes alive with the download of the Freedom Walk Challenge app on either android or apple devices or by visiting the website. Participants in the challenge can win a commemorative Freedom Walk keepsake.
The five-stop tour and challenge are available year-round to provide an outdoor classroom experience that aims to educate visitors about Galveston’s rich African American History. For details on the tour and how to take the challenge, visit here.
Stop 1: Middle Passage Marker, Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21
This marker commemorates enslaved Africans in Galveston during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as well as the millions of captive Africans who perished during the transatlantic slave trade known as the Middle Passage. Galveston was one of the 48 known ports of entry in the U.S. for enslaved Africans who survived the transatlantic crossing. The marker can be found at the Texas Seaport Museum.
Stop 2: Juneteenth Marker and Absolute Equality Mural, Old Galveston Square building, 22nd and Strand
The much-anticipated “Absolute Equality” mural, which illustrates the journey of Black Americans out of slavery into freedom, is the newest addition to Galveston’s rich history-focused attractions. The 5,000-square-foot mural, created by Houston-based Reginald C. Adams, was painted on the side of the Old Galveston Square building, located at 22nd and Strand in downtown Galveston. The massive art installation is an initiative of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, launched during Black History Month 2021 to help raise awareness about Juneteenth and contributed to the growing push that made Juneteenth a national holiday in June 2021.
Juneteenth, or June 19, marks the day in 1865 that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 at this spot in Galveston. The order freed more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas – one of the last groups of slaves to be freed in the United States. Samuel Collins, co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, said the mural is bigger than art. “To finally see it become a reality gives me hope of a nation that’s more honest and more united,” Collins said. “This mural will help us expand the narrative of the Juneteenth story.” Learn more at www.juneteenthlegacyproject.com.
Stop 3: The US Customs House
The Customs House was one of the primary buildings that army troops occupied. It was the first building in Galveston designed by an architect and the first non-military building constructed by the Federal Government in Texas. A copy of General Order No. 3 was undoubtedly posted near the front door where a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation is displayed today.
The building may also have another important connection to Juneteenth. The Customs House had a functioning printing press and was used to print Amnesty Oaths that Confederate soldiers were required to sign to get their rights restored. One of the provisions in those oaths was that the signers would respect the laws of the United States including the proclamation that emancipated the slaves. The press may also have been used to print copies of General Order No. 3 that were then posted around Galveston and used by soldiers spreading throughout Texas to bring word of emancipation.
Stop 4: Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2013 Broadway
This church was the last site along General Gordon Granger’s march through Galveston. It was also the site of early Juneteenth celebrations in which freed slaves marched from the county courthouse to the church, an annual tradition that is carried out to this day as part of the island’s Juneteenth celebrations.
In addition to its Juneteenth significance, this church was the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas. In 1848, the Methodist Episcopal Church South established an African American church for its slaves. The trustees purchased land at 20th and Broadway to build a church. A fire destroyed it in 1885. In 1886, the church re-organized and a new building was completed in 1888. The building is a combination of gothic revival architecture and regional craftsmanship. Renowned church member Norris Wright Cuney laid the church’s masonry.
Stop #5: Juneteenth Marker at Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway
Every year, the Galveston community commemorates the reading of General Order No. 3 at Ashton Villa. Here stands the city’s official Juneteenth statue, The Legislator commemorating the day Juneteenth became an official state holiday in the late 1970s. Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by Democratic state representative Al Edwards (Houston).
There’s More to Explore
Galveston Island’s rich African American history goes well beyond celebrating Emancipation. From being home to the first historically African American secondary school and public library in Texas to being the hometown of World Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson, Galveston has long fought to preserve the knowledge of African American accomplishments and heritage on the island, holding dear the many historic sites and monuments that live on to tell the story. The African American History tour is an in-depth exploration of more than 20 monuments, sites and changemakers of Galveston. For more information on the tour, click here.
About Galveston Island
Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston. The island is best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas’ premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks. Galveston Island is the birthplace of Juneteenth and home to popular amusements such as, Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, as well as a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding. For more information on Galveston Island visit www.visitgalveston.com or call 1-888-GAL-ISLE.