On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and Union Army General Gordon Granger read the federal orders proclaiming that all the enslaved people in Texas were free. It was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation which formally ended slavery, but in Texas, remote as it was, progress had been slow.
Juneteenth is not the day that enslaved people in Texas were free, but it is the day they were given the news. According to a Juneteeth’s official historical website, people reacted to the news of their freedom with “jubilation.”
“Many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’—attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom,” it reads.
The tradition of celebrating Juneteenth started in Texas churches, dating back to 1866. Throughout the years as it grew in popularity, it gained a focus on celebrating Black arts, food, and culture. Juneteenth—also called Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day—is now the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It was declared an official state holiday in Texas in January 1980.
In the midst of widespread human rights protests calling for justice and police reform, many people and organizations will be honoring Juneteenth once again with renewed purpose.
Here’s where to celebrate Juneteenth in North Texas.
Flourish Community-based Initiatives, a local nonprofit, and McKinney Performing Arts Center are hosting a special Juneteenth arts event. Guests are invited to contribute to an artistic Juneteenth memorial. Materials will be provided, but participants can bring any historic pieces, such as church programs, family photos or fabric. Come and go between 3-7 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday at McKinney Performing Arts Center.
The Martin Luther King Jr. community center in Dallas is hosting a socially-distanced drive-thru event with dual purposes: celebrating Juneteenth and providing community members in need with free non-perishable food items, hygiene kits, and household products. The drive is running from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Not my Son, a community network dedicated to ensuring the safety of children while allowing them the chance to express themselves in a safe environment, is hosting their first Juneteeth celebration with food, drinks, music, raffles, and more at Lofty Space starting at 3 p.m.
There will be a march with music in defense of Black lives at Dallas City Hall at 1 p.m. for Black Lives Weekend. All attendees are asked to wear a face mask and follow social distancing guidelines.
The DFW Dance Hub is calling dancers together to stand up to police brutality in a dance protest. The event will also include key speakers and words from community leaders. It will start at 3 p.m. at JFK Memorial Plaza and will feature key speakers and community leaders.
St. John Baptist Church of Carrollton is hosting a Juneteenth celebration. There will be live entertainment and food, and community members are invited to learn about Black culture and celebrate together. The event will run from 1 to 2 p.m.
Denton is hosting a series of virtual events for Juneteenth to provide a full schedule of celebration, culture, and unity. Events include virtual workouts, a video game contest, storytime for kids, a poetry slam, and more. The full schedule can be found online.
Black Lives Matter, Rockwall chapter, is creating an immersive Juneteenth experience at Harry Myers Park from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be an art display, speeches, food trucks and various local Black business vendors. Attendees are asked to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
At 2:30 pm. in Klyde Warren Park, protesters will be rallying for justice, accountability, reform, and education. Organizers urge people to come together to create a more just and equal system for future generations.
Douglass Visions Committee is hosting a drive-through Juneteenth celebration in Downtown Plano. Participants will remain in their cars, and be treated to free food boxes supplied by Minnie’s Food Pantry, free gloves, swag bags and giveaways, free COVID-19 testing provided by WellHealth Frisco, voter registration opportunities, and more. Line up starts at 18th Street and K Avenue on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.