The public art installation stands in the very place where enslaved people were proclaimed free in 1865.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
June 17, 2021
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Galveston Juneteenth Absolute Equality Mural
Credit: Galveston CVB

On Saturday, June 19, the country will recognize Juneteenth, which honors the freeing of slaves in our country. More specifically, the holiday marks the day in 1865 when following the Civil War, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in the island city of Galveston, which ordered the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas, one of the last groups of slaves to be emancipated in our country.

This year, as part of Galveston's efforts to commemorate the pivotal date in our nation's history, a powerful 5,000-square-foot mural has been erected by Houston based artist Reginald C. Adams and his team of artists on the side of the Old Galveston Square building on 22nd and Strand, in the very location where Gen. Granger delivered his address on June 19, 1865. Titled "Absolute Equality," the mural tells several moving stories about the Black experience in America: enslaved Africans being marched onto ships, including Esteban, the first nonnative enslaved person, who arrived shipwrecked on Galveston Island in 1528; Harriet Tubman, the leader of the Underground Railroad, which ushered enslaved people to freedom North of the Mason-Dixon line; Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation, and Gen. Granger issuing General Order No. 3 on Juneteenth, with Black Union soldiers beside him.

The project was commissioned by the Juneteenth Legacy Project and will be formally dedicated this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CST as part of the 42nd Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration in Galveston. Sam Collins, co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, shared a statement of the art installation's importance, saying "to finally see it become a reality gives me hope of a nation that's more honest and more united." He added that "this mural will help us expand the narrative of the Juneteenth story." In addition to a lineup of events on Juneteenth, Galveston also offers self-guided history tour year-round for those interested in learning more about this important day. For those not in Galveston this weekend or planning on visiting in the coming months, we are grateful that this incredible piece of art will inspire many to educate themselves more deeply about the stories and lessons behind the colorful display, even if they're not witnessing it firsthand.

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After a year of much divisiveness and pain, we hope the weekend's commemorative events and celebrations on Juneteenth inspire compassion and unity. After all, how would we like to be depicted on murals 156 years from now?