The mural’s narrative begins in 1528 when this slave-turned-explorer—often referred to as “the first great African man in America”—washes up on the sands of Galveston following an escape from slaughter in Florida and a shipwreck in the Gulf.
With her ever-present lantern aloft, viewers will easily spot the abolitionist. There’s no definitive proof Tubman was ever in Texas, but underground railroad routes did run through the Lone Star State into Mexico, as well as throughout the North.
He holds the Emancipation Proclamation. Just above him march the Civil War’s unsung Black heroes, soldiers from the United States Colored Troops (179,000 strong), who played a vital role in some of the Union’s most significant victories.
Gen. Gordon Granger
As he signs one of his General Orders, a notable circle of Black Union soldiers stand behind him. Though historians know USCT soldiers were present in Galveston on June 19, 1865, it’s still a mystery as to how troops helped execute the order—the entire language of which runs along the bottom of the mural.
Doves fly over the seawall and the Hotel Galvez in a nod to Galveston history. And in a nod to the future, in the upper right hand corner of the mural, an astronaut looks out into the gold and russet clouds of the unknown.
Learn more about the making of the mural, the history of Juneteenth, and the Juneteenth Legacy Project here.