Culture / Newsy

All the Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in Houston — a Parade, Free Festivals, a BLCK Market, Music and Much More

This Now Federal Holiday Still Means Something Extra in Texas

BY // 06.14.23

Describing Texas in On Juneteenth, Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed writes: “No other state brings together so many disparate and defining characteristics all in one.” Gordon-Reed, a Harvard University professor and native Texan from the Big Thicket, shares the story of Juneteenth both as memoir and historical document. She quotes the song “This, Then, Is Texas,” which appears in Giant (1956), the epic Western filmed in Marfa.

And initially, Gordon-Reed thought of Juneteenth as sacrosanct, a holiday only Texans could fully understand, contextualize and appreciate. However, she warmed to the idea Texas, in essence, leads the nation in observing this now federal holiday nationwide.

Before discussing the meaning of Juneteenth, however, it is important to focus on the historical aspects of it. Now in its 158th anniversary year, Juneteenth began on June 19, 1865. Union General George Granger, issuing General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, informed enslaved Texans of their freedom. Yet, in reality, slavery ended legally with the ratification of the 13th Amendment a few months later in December 1865.

Still, Granger’s act of enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation (which was issued two years earlier) and the work of abolitionists is what we commemorate. Further, after championing Juneteenth for decades, Texans such as Opal Lee and Houston’s late State Rep Al Edwards helped make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

While Juneteenth is now celebrated nationally, the holiday also known as Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day has strong local roots. Here is how Juneteenth is being celebrated in Houston:

Free Community Crawfish Boil in Third Ward

3432 Scott Street

Outdoor Dining with Bering's

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The public is invited to attend a free, festive crawfish boil to celebrate Juneteenth this Friday, June 16, from 2 pm to 4 pm at Frost Bank’s Third Ward Financial Center. This event features music, delicious crawfish and shaved ice.

Kendrick Scott’s Unearthed, Presented by DACAMERA

Free On-Demand Virtual Event, June 16 through June 23

Composer Kendrick Scott creates sublime jazz soundscapes such as the inspiring composition “Cycling Through Reality.” This native Houstonian and drummer’s latest production titled Unearthed focuses on convict laborers known as the Sugarland 95. Inspired by the stories of these Black laborers who worked in sugar fields, Scott honors the Sugarland 95 with music, art and poetry.

Joining Scott in this production are artist Robert Hodge, poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Joe Sanders and the Harlem Quartet. To register for the free on-demand virtual screenings, go here.

Native Houstonian and Blue Note label jazz composer-drummer Kendrick Scott created "Unearthed," a production honoring convict laborers known as the Sugarland 95. DACAMERA, a longtime Houston arts organization, hosts free on-demand virtual screenings of "Unearthed" from June 16-23. The event also features artist Robert Hodge, poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton and the Harlem Quartet. (Courtesy Kendrick Scott and DACAMERA)
Native Houstonian and Blue Note label jazz composer-drummer Kendrick Scott created “Unearthed,” a production honoring convict laborers known as the Sugarland 95. DACAMERA, a longtime Houston arts organization, hosts free on-demand virtual screenings of “Unearthed” from June 16-23. The event also features artist Robert Hodge, poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton and the Harlem Quartet. (Courtesy Kendrick Scott and DACAMERA)

A Family Friendly Juneteenth Celebration at Bayou Bend

6003 Memorial Drive

Everyone is invited to a free Juneteenth Celebration at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens this Saturday, June 17 from 10 am to 3 pm. This is a chance to learn about the history of Black cowboys from Rosenberg’s Black Cowboy Museum. And to take a step back in time to learn the history of 19th Century Buffalo Soldiers from Houston’s Buffalo Soldiers Museum.

Poetry will become the focus during a session hosted by the Express Children’s Theater. There also will be a chance to practice making art with teaching artists Norola Morgan and Janice Warren. Further, discover the history of the Wilson Pottery Foundation, one of the first Black-owned businesses in Texas.

Finally, enjoy a tour of the beautifully landscaped Bayou Bend estate, once owned by philanthropist Ima Hogg. Learn more here.

Mayor Turner’s 10th Annual Juneteenth Parade in Acres Homes

6719 W. Montgomery Road

Parades unite people in a fun, convivial atmosphere. Starting at 10 am this Saturday, June 17, Houston’s Juneteenth parade will bring marching bands, a car caravan and special guests. Last year’s parade included floats, vintage cars, walking groups, art cars, history buses, horses and an appearance from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Beginning at Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, located at 6719 W. Montgomery Road, the parade will then travel north on W. Montgomery and west on Dolly Wright before ending at 1620 Dolly Wright.

CoolxDad’s Born A Star Festival at Mo’ Better Brews

1201 Southmore Boulevard

Celebrate Juneteenth and Fatherhood at CoolxDad‘s annual festival dubbed Born A Star this Saturday, June 17, from 1 pm to 5 pm. Enjoy the sounds of DJ Elevated and other performers, including The Biggest Brandon, Sia Amun and Keith Jacobs. Coinciding with the two-year anniversary of the vegan Mo’ Better Brews cafe, this event also celebrates positivity.

CoolxDad presents the Born A Star festival headlined by DJ Elevated on Saturday, June 17 at Mo' Better Brews, a vegan cafe located at 1201 Southmore Boulevard in the Museum District. This event also celebrates the 2-year anniversary of Mo' Better Brews. (Courtesy CoolxDad and Mo' Better Brews)
CoolxDad presents the Born A Star festival headlined by DJ Elevated on Saturday, June 17 at Mo’ Better Brews, a vegan cafe located at 1201 Southmore Boulevard in the Museum District. This event also celebrates the 2-year anniversary of Mo’ Better Brews. (Courtesy CoolxDad and Mo’ Better Brews)

Emancipation Park Conservancy’s Free Juneteenth Music Fest

3018 Emancipation Avenue

Enjoy dancing, incredible music and sing-along moments at this year’s Juneteenth Music Festival, which is set for this Saturday, June 17, from 3 pm to 10 pm. Featured performers include gospel artist V Michael McKay and zydeco legend Step Rideau. Headlining the music festival at Third Ward’s Emancipation Park are two legendary funk acts — Lakeside and The S.O.S. Band.

Lakeside still keeps dance floors moving decades after its hit “Fantastic Voyage” was first released. And, of course, The S.O.S. Band keeps crowds hyped up with ’80s classics like “Take Your Time” and “Just Be Good to Me.” Food trucks and merchandise vendors also will be on site at the park. Learn more here.

BLCK Market’s Juneteenth Market at Discovery Green

1001 Avenidas De Las Americas

Enjoying shopping with the community at BLCK Market’s Juneteenth market event featuring vendors selling all kinds of wares. Featuring various products sold by Black entrepreneurs including clothing, jewelry, art, housewares, beauty items and food, the market tends to attract big crowds.

Day two of the market is this Sunday, June 18, from 2 pm to 9 pm. It’s free to attend, but registration is suggested.

The BLCK Market hosts shopping events year round, including Juneteenth-themed markets. This year, BLCK Market showcases vendors at two different markets: Saturday, June 17 at 1201 Main Street Ste. 101 from 1-5 p.m., and Sunday, June 18 at Discovery Green and Avenida Plaza (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Courtesy BLCK Market)
The BLCK Market hosts shopping events year round, including Juneteenth-themed markets. This year, BLCK Market showcases vendors at two different markets: Saturday, June 17 at 1201 Main Street Ste. 101 from 1-5 p.m., and Sunday, June 18 at Discovery Green and Avenida Plaza (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Courtesy BLCK Market)

Libations for Liberation Event at Third Ward’s El Dorado Ballroom

2310 Elgin Street

Pouring libations, which honors and invokes ancestors, is rooted in African societies and cultures. Wendell Robbins and Ben Williams, owners of the Black-owned Highway Vodka brand, continue this tradition by hosting Libations for Liberation. The event kicks off at Third Ward’s recently renovated historic El Dorado Ballroom this Monday, June 19 at 6 pm.

Benefiting the Innocence Project, this event also features a bartending competition and free food and beverages. After winning the competition, the winner’s cocktail will be featured on the menu at Lucille’s restaurant. Learn more here.

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