Celebrating Juneteenth in Austin, TX

memorial
The center of the Texas African American History Memorial at the Texas State Capitol depicts Juneteenth in Texas when African Americans were freed. | Photo by @imdxtryu

This Sunday is Juneteenth — also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the words “June” + “nineteenth” and is celebrated on June 19 every year.

Why is it celebrated? Despite President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, people who were enslaved in Texas were not freed. Nearly two and a half years later on June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to read General Order No. 3 — a federal order freeing all previously enslaved people in Texas.

In 1979, Rep. Al Edwards of Houston introduced a bill calling for Juneteenth to become a state holiday. That same year, the state legislature passed the act, and Gov. William P. Clements, Jr., signed it into law, making Texas the first state in the nation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday

On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday.

Did you know St. John Colony, a community ~30 miles southeast of Austin, will commemorate its 150th Juneteenth this year, making it one of the longest-running Juneteenth celebrations in America?

The first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration took place in 1980. Now, festivals and parades take place all over the country, especially in Texas.

Emancipation Day Celebration Band
Emancipation Day Celebration band, June 19, 1900, Texas | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Here are some local events taking place this weekend.

Black West Austin Driving Tour | Now-Sun., June 19 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Neill-Cochran House Museum | $6+ | Explore Austin during this self-guided tour using pre-recorded videos to learn the history of the Wheatville, Pease Park, and Clarksville neighborhoods.

Juneteenth 2022 – “Homecoming: Meet us at the gathering spot” | Fri., June 17 | 10 a.m.-2 p.m. | Travis County Parking Garage Atrium | Free | Travis County employees + the general public are invited to this event featuring food, information booths, bobbing for fish, and face painting.

Texas Farmers’ Market Juneteenth Celebration | Sat., June 18-Sun., June 19 | Times vary | 2006 Philomena St. + 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park | Free | Join the Mueller or Lakeline farmers’ markets for cooking demos from local chefs, live music, and raffles. 

2022 Historical Juneteenth Parade | Sat., June 18 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m. | Locations vary | Free | Start the Juneteenth celebrations with a parade — check out the parade route to get the best seats.

Juneteenth Celebration | Sat., June 18 | 10 a.m.-2 p.m. | Buda Amphitheater & City Park, 204 San Antonio St. | Free | Join this celebration in Buda for family friendly fun including music, food trucks and vendors — bring two non-perishable items to help the Hays County Food Bank.

Juneteenth Black Makers Market | Sat., June 18 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | George Washington Carver Museum | Free | This outdoor event will feature 30+ Black businesses, music, food, and performances.

Soul Food Truck Fest | Sat., June 18 | 11 a.m.-7 p.m. | Huston-Tillotson University | $15+ | Spend the day enjoying live cooking, kids activities, shopping, and live music.

Juneteenth Park Festival | Sat., June 18 | 12-10 p.m. | Rosewood & Boggy Creek Park | Free | Enjoy live entertainment, vendors, and a fireworks show at this celebration.

Pflugerville 2nd Annual Juneteenth | Sat., June 18 | 12-7 p.m. | Wells Point Sports Park, 800 S. Heatherwilde Blvd., Pflugerville | Free | Register to take the family to this celebration where the theme will be “Pfamily Reunion.”

Freedom Fest 2022 | Sat., June 18 | 1-4 p.m. | Colony Park | Free | Register for this Juneteenth event featuring a barbecue pit-master competition, live music, and fun activities.

Juneteenth Festival Round Rock | Sat., June 18 | 4-11:30 p.m. | Old Settlers Park, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock | Free | Listen to performances by hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play + other artists at this event.

JUNETEENTH (PERCENTAGE NIGHT) | Sun., June 19 | 5-10 p.m. | Locations vary | Prices vary | Dine in at any Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group restaurant to support the historic Neill-Cochran House Museum — view the list.