The rich, and often hard to believe story of Juneteenth is about to be immortalized in a new art installation opening in Galveston this June. Artist and visual storyteller, Reginald Adams, says he is making history by creating a lasting piece of art in honor of Juneteenth.
Adams, who lives in Houston, told Texas Standard he first became aware of Juneteenth – the holiday that commemorates the day in 1865 when Black Texans first learned they were no longer enslaved – when he moved to Texas in the mid-1990s.
Adams was commissioned to create the installation, “Absolute Equality,” and he’s working with other artists, students and community members to get a broad understanding of what Juneteenth means to Texans.
“One of the elements that we want to do is see that this mural is beyond just a beautification of a downtown building in Galveston, but also an actual story wall, where, through some new augmented reality technology, a user can take their phone and, through this application, uncover everything,” Adams said.
He wants the installation to be about more than understanding the past.
“We’re making history about history,” Adams said.
Adams’ project will tell the story of Juneteenth, and of centuries of enslavement in Texas, with “windows” into the past. The first window reflects on 1528, when an enslaved Moorish navigator was shipwrecked off the coast of Galveston. Other windows will reflect the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the news of freedom coming to Texas two years later – the arrival of U.S. General Gordon Granger and declaration of Martial Law in 1865 freed 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.