City Cast

Houston History: Juneteenth's importance in Texas

Brooke Lewis
Posted on February 28   |   Updated on June 1
The Absolute Equality mural displays several key figures in Texas history and the abolition of slavery

The Absolute Equality mural in Galveston. (Brooke Lewis/City Cast Houston)

Juneteenth has gained national attention in recent years, but the holiday began as a Texas tradition in nearby Galveston. On June 19, 1865 — two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation — Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston. On that day, more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas became one of the last groups of slaves to be freed in the country. 

Sam Collins III, a historian, raised funds for a historical marker at the site of the former Osterman building in Galveston, where the general order was declared. The marker was erected in 2014, but few people stopped to read it. Collins decided that a mural would get more attention. Houston artist Reginald Adams, known for his public art around the city at Emancipation Park and murals outside the Breakfast Klub, came on board to paint the mural. In 2021, Adams and his team worked on the wall for nearly a month. 

In the mural, several historical figures central to understanding slavery and Texas Black history are represented including Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Union Army Maj. Gen Gordon Granger. Now, if you visit the Old Galveston Square Building, you’ll find the 5,000 square foot mural depicting a key part of Texas history. 

For the full story on the mural, read my article here in Texas Monthly.

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