On June 19, 1866, Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, celebrated the country’s first Juneteenth. This was the first anniversary of the day the U.S. Army reached Galveston and notified enslaved people that they were free. From there, Juneteenth celebrations spread across Texas, and eventually, the United States. Juneteenth celebrations dissipated in the early half of the 20th century, but interest renewed during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
This is the second year that Juneteenth has been a federal holiday, and cities across the country are planning elaborate celebrations. Many of the events are scheduled for the weekend before the holiday, which falls on a Monday this year. There are Juneteenth events just a road trip away, no matter where you live in the U.S.
Here are six cities across the U.S. that are planning unique Juneteenth celebrations.
As the birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston is a natural choice for the holiday weekend. The city has dozens of Juneteenth exhibits and events planned for June, with many of them happening the weekend before the holiday. One such exhibit, called “Thursday Night Lights,” at the Bryan Museum, tells the story of Texas’ segregated high school football league. The exhibit (adults: $14; $12 for age 65 and over) runs through July 2. On June 15, the Bryan Museum will host a panel discussion with Michael Hurd, the author of the book on which the exhibit is based.
Visitors can also check out the permanent Juneteenth exhibit, “And Still We Rise,” in the carriage house of 1859 Ashton Villa. The exhibit tells of the evolution of Juneteenth celebrations from its 19th-century roots to today. It’s open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT, Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Adults: $10; children: $5; children 5 and younger: free.)