Tropical downpours won't stop annual Juneteenth celebration at Ashton Villa in Galveston

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Tropical downpours couldn't stop the city of Galveston's annual Juneteenth celebration.

Galveston is the birthplace of Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 enslaved people there found out they had been freed - after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

It was designated as a federal holiday in 2021.

On Wednesday, the community commemorated the day inside Ashton Villa, an historic site in itself.

It served as the residence for the Confederate Army officers during the Civil War. It's now where General Order No. 3, which announced the slaves were free, is read as part of an event with a reenactment.

Ashton Villa is also home to a 9-foot tall bronze statue of the late Rep. Al Edwards holding the state law that made Juneteenth a national holiday.

Edwards played a critical role in making Juneteenth a state holiday as he spearheaded the legislation that made it so in 1979. In fact, Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Edwards died in 2020 at the age of 83.

Although the main event at Ashton Villa moved forward, some of Wednesday's Juneteenth festivities, including a family fun day and march, have been postponed until June 29.

Over the decades, Juneteenth has also been called Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Black Fourth of July and second Independence Day among others.

It's typical to wish people a "Happy Juneteenth" or "Happy Teenth," according to Alan Freeman, a comedian organizing a Juneteenth comedy festival in Galveston, Texas for the second straight year.

"You know how at Christmas people will say 'Merry Christmas' to each other and not even know each other?" Freeman said. "You can get a 'Merry Christmas' from everybody. This is the same way."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.