Houston's Emancipation Park celebrates 140 years


Emancipation Park at the intersection of Dowling and Elgin was founded in 1872.

"I grew up living behind the park," Barbara Johnson-Tucker said. For her, this park holds a lot of history. "I think we moved here when I was 5."

It's where, as a child, this now-professional singer shared her talents and her family enjoyed life.

"My son, Chris, and my brother were lifeguards at this swimming pool," Johnson-Tucker said.

But for these 10 acres of land in the Third Ward, the history stretches far beyond one family.

The land was purchased by former slaves as a permanent park site to celebrate the day they learned they were free -- a day later known as Junteenth.

Saturday was a special day as the community gathered inside the park gymnasium to celebrate Emancipation Park's 140th anniversary.

Seven years after enslavement ended, four men from two local churches got together and pooled $800 to buy the plot of land.

In honor of their freedom, they named it Emancipation Park.

"The history is magnificent!" Johnson-Tucker exclaimed. She, like others, feels that history is worth celebrating.

The 140th anniversary celebration featured a special program, games, entertainment, refreshments and tours of the park.To learn more about Emancipation Park, visit the city of Houston park website and the Friends of Emancipation Park website.

Copyright © 2023 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.