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10 Ways H-Town Gets Down For Juneteenth

Houston knows how to celebrate Juneteenth.

Houston, one of the largest cities in the country and located approximately two hours from Galveston—the birthplace of Juneteenth—boasts a sizable Black population and a variety of events to celebrate Juneteenth.

Here are 10 such events, ranging from traditional celebrations to florist collaborations and explorations of how Juneteenth intersects with technology.

Juneteenth, one of the most recognized celebrations of Black freedom in the country, is celebrated by those who wish to remember it in a myriad of ways. Houston’s Juneteenth celebrations are just as sprawling and varied as the city they reside in, with something that everyone can enjoy. 

Although Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Houston’s Emancipation Park has long been a focal point for celebrations. Established in 1872 by four formerly enslaved individuals, including Rev. Jack Yates, Emancipation Park is the oldest park in both Houston and the State of Texas. During the Jim Crow era, it was the only public park available to Houston’s Black population. Today, it remains a central location for Juneteenth celebrations for Houstonians in the Third Ward and beyond.

As part of its programming leading up to Juneteenth, the Emancipation Park Conservancy, which runs the park, is hosting several events, culminating in the Juneteenth Family Fun Day on June 19. The event, sponsored by HEB, the Houston Texans, Microsoft and other corporate sponsors, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature a vendor market, food trucks, a live DJ, and a mobile gaming trailer. 

On June 15, BLCK Market, a collective that focuses on highlighting Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs, will begin its multiple-day Juneteenth Celebration. The celebration will run from June 15 to June 18 and will feature live music, soul food, BBQ, vendor booths, and an art gallery. 

Houston’s popular Axelrad Beer Garden will be the setting for a different kind of Juneteenth celebration. On June 19, Taylor Brione, of Beck&Call Hospitality as well as a Barbie collector, will be hosting a screening of the documentary Black Barbie, which will debut on Netflix on Juneteenth. Juneteenth Cinema Night promises a night of thought-provoking conversations about identity, beauty standards, and positive representation in the media and the toy industry. 

The Descendants of Olivewood Cemetery will host a Juneteenth Garden of Remembrance, part of its Juneteenth at Olivewood celebration, on June 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The ceremony is intended to remember and honor early contributors to Houston’s Black community. The Juneteenth Garden of Remembrance is also intended to mark June 19, 1865, the date that enslaved persons in Texas were informed that they had been emancipated. The event is organized by Paul Jennings and a co-founder of the Descendants of Olivewood Cemetery, Margott Williams. 

On June 15, there will be a Black Houston Historic Bus Tour, which will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also on that day, Generation Park will host its second annual Juneteenth Celebration, officially titled Lake Houston’s Juneteenth Celebration at Generation Park, the event commemorates the end of slavery in Texas through a variety of activities. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. attendees will be treated to live music, dance performances, art, history, and cultural activities.

On June 15, the Heritage Society will host its third annual Juneteenth Program, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. as the Juneteenth Freedmen’s Town Bike Riders ride by the Yates House for a photo op outside the home of Jack Yates, which was moved to Sam Houston Park.

Prominent in the Heritage Society’s presentation of Juneteenth is the history of Texas’s Black cowboys, which will be presented through a pair of presentations from Black cowboy Harold Cash and the director of the Black Cowboy Museum, Larry Callies. Martha Whiting-Goddard, the great-granddaughter of Jack Yates, will also discuss her family’s history and what it felt like growing up in the Yates House. The event will lead into the “From Plantation to Emancipation Tour.”

On June 18, Ion District, Microsoft, Blacks at Microsoft, and the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and the Emancipation Park Conservancy will present Juneteenth Journey: Bridging Past & Present Through Technology, an event which will examine Juneteenth and the evolution of technology. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Ion-Forum Stairs.

On June 19, a Juneteenth Big Black Beach Day will take place at Sunny Beach 10 a.m to 7 p.m. those who come bring either a dish or items to contribute to the community gathering. Finally, on that day, The Rado Market and florist Joanne Townsend from Design + Revive will host a Juneteenth Jubilee Floral Crown Workshop, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The event will highlight the significance of flowers to Juneteenth celebrations as participants will create floral crowns, celebrate freedom, take photos at a photo booth, and shop local vendors and enjoy refreshments provided by The Rado Market.