Not familiar with the historic legacy of Emancipation Park? Just in time for its 148th Annual Juneteenth Celebration, which marks the abolition of slavery (and is virtual this year due to COVID-19), Emancipation Park Conservancy has launched a new audio guide to educate us about the historic green space—it’s Houston’s oldest public park and a monument to our city’s rich African American culture and heritage.
The audio guide uses GPS and storytelling to lead visitors to monuments of the park’s founders, formerly enslaved Third and Fourth Ward community leaders, who united residents and civic organizations to commemorate the anniversary of their emancipation by building a park of their own. The Juneteenth Celebration has happened here every June since 1872, more than a century before Texas acknowledged it as a state holiday in 1979 (our country has sadly yet to name Juneteenth a federal holiday). Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, the date that slaves were formally freed by Texas—two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Today, Emancipation Park and its historic buildings have been designated a protected landmark by the City of Houston and are a part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project and the Emancipation National Historical Trail as well. The 10-acre park also debuted a remarkable $33.6 million revitalization in 2017, complete with a state-of-the-art recreation and aquatic center, ensuring it will remain a vital Third Ward community hub and a cultural destination for years to come.
Download the Geotourist app to take the tour of Emancipation Park whenever you want—the audio guide will still be available after the Juneteenth Celebration too.