HOUSTON – In honor of Juneteenth – the commemoration of the news of slavery ending reaching Texas a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation – we wanted to share some options of how you can observe the, now, federal holiday by making monetary donations to some historical places in the Houston area that could use your support.
Even if you’re participating in the many events planned for Juneteenth, or you’re unable, there are several places that are important to the Black community and the holiday that could use our help staying afloat for the years to come.
Since opening its doors in 2012, the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) has become a nationally recognized institution. Located on Carolina and Wentworth streets, Houston’s first African American museum boasts two floors of exhibits. Not only are the walls filled with artwork from amazing Black artists, but also films are constantly being shown by Black writers, directors and actors.
The non-profit museum depends heavily on donations to help continue bringing art and culture to the community for FREE. If you would like to help the museum, you can join its membership program, which offers several different options, or make a one-time donation.
The museum, which opened in 2001, covers the history and contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers – the first Black professional soldiers to fight in a peacetime army. The recruits came from varied backgrounds including former slaves and veterans from service in the Civil War.
Every donation made to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is a contribution to the mission of educating the public on the history of African American Soldiers and their contributions to defending the nation. Your donation, no matter the size, helps fund the mission of sharing the stories, knowledge, and achievements of America’s African American armed forces personnel while building pride and patriotism throughout our communities.
Located in Houston’s Fourth Ward, Freedmen’s Town Museums, which was founded in 1996, is part of Rutherford B.H. Yates Museum, Inc. It’s dedicated to protecting the history of Freedmen’s Town by restoring and preserving the remaining historic homes of the early residents.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and the Union Army arrived in Galveston to enforce General Order No. 3 of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all enslaved persons were free. Hundreds of the newly emancipated left plantations and settled in the Fourth Ward on the south side of Buffalo Bayou, which became Freedmans/Freedmen’s Town.
Freedmen’s Town residents built their environment despite the racial climate during Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws. Over the years, the community’s unique architecture, history, and culture evolved as an early twentieth-century urban site worthy of a National Register of Historic Places designation in 1985. While modern-day Houston continues to develop around this historic site, the hand-laid brick streets throughout the community remind us about the importance of preservation and education.
A donation from you could help preserve the education and archaeology of the remaining homes and sites in this community.
Project Row Houses is a community that helps enrich lives through art and cultural identity. Located in Houston’s Third Ward, it’s labeled as one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods. The site is made up of five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as a home base for a variety of community-enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities.
To keep the history going, think about making a donation.
The 1870 Yates House, which was originally located in Freedmen’s Town, was built by Reverend John Henry “Jack” Yates, an emancipated slave who later served as the minister for Antioch Baptist Church and founder of Bethel Baptist Church. He also helped to organize the Houston Academy in 1894.
Donated by the Yates family to The Heritage Society, the house was moved to Sam Houston Park in 1994. It is furnished to represent the family’s lifestyle in the late 19th century and includes some of the furniture that was in the house when the family still lived there.
On June 18, 2021, Senator John Cornyn, who had been a co-sponsor of the bill honoring Juneteenth since 2011, held media interviews about the bipartisan passing of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, at the 1870 Yates House. He also received a tour of the Yates House, by Yates’ great-granddaughters Martha Whiting-Goddard and Jacqueline Bostic. Martha Whiting-Goddard is a board member of The Heritage Society.
The 10-acre park was purchased by former slaves in 1872 and served as a location to celebrate Juneteenth. Until the 1950s, this was the only public park and swimming pool in Houston open to African Americans.
The new park is now equipped with an aquatics center, baseball field, theater, cultural center, fitness center, gym, outdoor pavilion, playground, recreation center and tennis court.
The African American Library at the Gregory School is a library and archival site in Houston’s fourth ward dedicated to preserving the origins of Freedmen’s Town and the fourth ward in downtown Houston.
Opened as a school for Houston’s African American youth, the Gregory school was built by the members of Freedmen’s Town and served the community for several years. The school was burned down and rebuilt, and now serves as a museum and archive to preserve the items of some of Houston’s most prominent African American residents of Houston’s past and present.
The DeLUXE Theater, located at 3303 Lyons Avenue in the heart of Houston’s 5th Ward, opened in April 1941 as the premiere Black movie theater.
In 1998, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation purchased the theater with plans to reutilize it as a community performing and visual arts facility.
In 2014, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held, and renovation of the historic DeLUXE Theater began.
Now, the theater includes a 125-seat proscenium theater, property room, dressing rooms, box office, concession area, lobby, state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, administrative offices, multipurpose space, wet bar, and outdoor patio. The theater offers dance and music programming, event space and community initiatives.
Olivewood Cemetery, Houston’s first incorporated African American cemetery, is home to a number of prominent African-Americans, including:
- Elias Dibble, the first black-ordained Methodist minister in the country and founder of Trinity Methodist Church. Dibble began life as a slave and arrived in Houston as one of the many freed slaves seeking opportunity.
- Wade Hampton Logan, also an early pastor of Trinity and a presiding elder for the Navasota and Marshall Districts of the Methodist Church.
- James D. Ryan, philanthropist, educator, and community leader, was born in 1872 and served as the Dean of Education in Houston.
- Dr. Charles B. Johnson, also known as The Singing Dentist and author of Houston’s Bicentennial song “Houston is a Grand Old Town,” written in 1927 but performed in 1976.
Your donations will help restore and improve the grounds.