Juneteenth activities are in full swing in Galveston, where Texas slaves first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865.
The 12th Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Banquet, honoring State Representative Al Edwards who sponsored legislation making Juneteenth a state holiday, is tonight at the Old Central Cultural Center in Galveston.
"The state theme 'Come on Home Where It All Began' highlights the history of Juneteenth and its importance to our heritage," said Ennis Williams. "The banquet speaker will be Dr. C. G. Langham, graduate of Central High School, Class of 1962."
The 7th Annual Underground Railroad is from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
"The African-American Heritage Committee and the Education Committee of the Galveston Historical Foundation proudly presents 'The Making of an Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom,' said Tommie Boudreaux. "This day of activities will acquaint students 8-12 years of age with challenges Blacks faced to escape from slavery to freedom. Two Galveston professional musicians will be new to our program this year. Mr. Curt Gillins featuring 'Magic of the Drums' will present an interactive history of African drums. Mrs. June V. Pulliam will teach students songs of that time to be sung Friday morning, June 19th at Ashton Villa."
On Friday, June 19, the 30th Annual Emancipation Proclamation Reading and Prayer Breakfast will be held at Ashton Villa.
"The Emancipation Proclamation will be read to commemorate the historic event that occurred in Galveston on June 19, 1865, two years after it was enacted in 1863," said Doug Matthews. "Galveston holds the distinction of being the place of the first reading of the Proclamation in the South. Texas State Representative Al Edwards sponsored two legislative bills establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday and providing for statues in Galveston and at the state capital in Austin."
The Annual Juneteenth Jubilee Parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, beginning at 25th and Ball and continuing to the New Wright Cuney Park at 41st and Ball.
"Marching bands, drill teams, decorated cars and high kicking performers from Galveston, Houston, Dallas and other areas will excite the crowds along the route," said a news release. "Beautiful horse driven carriages will also be featured."
The parade will be followed by the annual Annie Mae Charles Juneteenth Jubilee Picnic at Wright Cuney Park. A special program including the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation will begin at 2:00 p.m. The picnic is free to the public.
At 5 p.m. the Ninth Annual Mount Olive Gospel Explosion will be held at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 3602 Avenue H in Galveston.
The final Juneteenth event in Galveston will be the march from Old Galveston Court House on 21st and Sealy to Reedy Chapel AME Church, 2015 Broadway. Reedy Chapel members and guests will commemorate the reading of General Order #3 in front of the Galveston Courthouse at 722 Moody and then march to the church as Reedy members did on January 1, 1866. The Emancipation Proclamation will be read during the program that will feature African American spirituals by the Heritage Chorale under the direction of Izola Collins.
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