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Celebrating Emancipation

Next week, America will celebrate Juneteenth (June 19). Since Juneteenth falls on a Monday this year, many celebrations will happen over the weekend prior. Juneteenth has been a Texas state holiday since 1980, but was signed into law as a National Holiday in 2021. Last year (2022) was the first year that everyone really had time to plan for a National Celebration and our family was blessed to be able to visit some very important sites on Juneteenth.

I am determined that in our family, Juneteenth will not fall the way of other holidays, like Memorial Day, where everyone just barbecues and takes the day off and no one really remembers or knows why. I have researched the beginnings of holidays and what people used to do to celebrate them and let's just say...things have changed over the years. It's fine to celebrate differently, but it's not OK to not know WHY we celebrate.

Summer holidays also tend to suffer a bit because most children are not in school (even homeschoolers) and so the learning doesn't always happen. It's up to us, parents! Spend some time this week, and on Juneteenth, learning, watching, reading, and teaching your children (and maybe yourself) about this new-ish National holiday. It's worth celebrating!

And now, come on a little tour with me! My family was able to go on the Freedom Walk last year, which is a self-guided tour of important Juneteenth sites. We were able to hit 4 of the 5 stops. And yes, there was a little driving involved--not only walking. Hey, June in Galveston, Texas is no joke.

Five stops on the Freedom Walk

On Pier 21 we see a plaque for the Middle Passage

Close up of the building where the plaque is located

We spent some time here talking about it with our kids.

I missed getting a picture of the Historical Marker, but we walked a block or so over to the Absolute Equality Mural. A building stood where that parking lot now is that was used for Union Headquarters. So General Granger went there to make the announcement after he and his troops landed on Galveston Island.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't know what all of the pictures were about last year. A very kind lady told me about an app you can use to scan and find out more information, but it was hard to do. This year, I plan to find out more.

We arrived just in time to sit under this tent beside the mural and hear a historical re-enactor read General Order #3. I had never heard of General Order #3 before. I was pretty appalled at all I didn't know about this, even having grown up 45 miles from the site. I'll bet a lot of Americans don't know either. It was chilling hearing it read. It was just so....abrupt and to the point. I cannot imagine the feelings or thoughts they had upon hearing this order read aloud.

Next stop was Reedy Chapel, the site of a church for enslaved persons, where it was believed to be announced as well. Anyway, I'm sure word spread from here!

I couldn't believe we got to go inside. It was Sunday afternoon, so services were over.

Our last stop was Ashton Villa. I've been to Ashton Villa for other events, but did not notice this statue. It's of Texas state legislator Al Edwards, and commemorates Juneteenth becoming a state holiday. There is also a re-enactment of the reading of General Order #3 at this site, but it had been the day before.

If you live within driving distance of Galveston, Texas, I highly recommend taking the Freedom Walk with your children. If not, hit up YouTube and "visit" these sites. Talk about them, learn about them, and celebrate Freedom Day in a meaningful way.

Freedom Walk map and information here.


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