GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time, the country will observe Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It's a significant date in history that has deep ties to Galveston and southeast Texas.
A giant 5,000-square-foot mural commemorating Juneteenth now sits at 22nd Street and the Strand in the heart of Galveston's downtown. The bright colors of the "Absolute Equality" mural depict different moments and figures in history who played an important role in Juneteenth.
"I think anybody that is as far as Huntsville should make the two-hour drive to Galveston," said Kennisha Allen, with the Juneteenth Legacy Project, a non-profit organization that commissioned the mural. "You should be like, 'Let me go to the birthplace of Juneteenth.'"
Reginald C. Adams is the artist behind the work that began in January and was completed just in time for this year's celebrations.
"It's a beautiful mural," said Victoran Arthur, a Galveston local whose family has deep ties to Juneteenth. "I think a lot of people need to come down and see it."
Earlier this month, Galveston's city council voted to approve making Juneteenth a city holiday, and President Joe Biden signed a bill on Thursday that created a federal holiday.
"I think that our ancestors would be proud," said Jessica Wallace, who has been celebrating June 19 for a few decades.
On Friday night, the Smithsonian Institution will present, "Our Shared Future: Reckoning with our Racial Past," which will include projected images onto Shearn Moody Plaza (123 25th St., Galveston). It begins at 8 p.m. and will continue nightly through Sunday night.
On Saturday, the mural will be officially dedicated at 11:30 a.m. The artists as well as members of the Juneteenth Legacy Project will be present.
At 1 p.m., a parade starting at 26th and Ball will begin and conclude with a picnic at Wright Cuney Park.
Later in the evening, a fireworks display will light up the sea wall.
Sen. John Cornyn and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee will also be in attendance for the festivities.