Juneteenth: Let Freedom Ring!
Juneteenth (or June 19th) is an official holiday in Texas history, but is now celebrated nationally and even around the world. It is a day that marks the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom for African Americans and blacks (hence the name Juneteenth). In fact, we do have a Houston neighborhood that is a part of this Texas history. Freedmen’s Town, one of the oldest black community located in Downtown Houston (the Fourth Ward-area), is now a historic site recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, in recent articles in the Houston Chronicle, much of Freedmen’s Town are vanishing due to “an abortive city-sponsored effort to buy up property for development of affordable housing.” (And I suspect that Houston’s fast population growth may be another factor.) As a result, the city plans to pave its way through this historic site, “giving way to modern, single-family houses and townhouses.” Many groups, forming the Coalition for Freedmen’s Town for instance, are coming together to save and preserve what’s left of this historic site. After all, this town, they hope, will commemorate not only Juneteenth but also remind younger generations the significance of freedom and black history. Furthermore, they reason, if it takes a city’s effort to save a historic site from the bulldozer because it’s on the National Register (like the Alamo in San Antonio), then Houston should do the same. Otherwise, “we [would] lose the character of Houston.” Let us all hope for the best for this history-saving effort. And Happy Juneteenth!
*Note: Photo courtesy of Hill Swift Architects.