Hundreds attend Juneteenth festivals in Houston & call for more companies to recognize the holiday

Hundreds of Houstonians spent the day celebrating Juneteenth from Houston down to Galveston. There were festivals, fireworks shows and live concerts. 

Houstonians didn't hold back when it came to celebrating Juneteenth 2022. A two-day event at Emancipation Park brought out nearly 2,000 people. There were live music performances from local and big named bands like Kool and The Gang, The Isley brothers, and Maze. The Emancipation Proclamation granted people held as slaves their freedom in 1863, but the news was slow to travel. 

Juneteenth signifies June 19, 1865, the date Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and let the last of the enslaved people in our nation know that they were free. 

For decades, the date has been celebrated amongst African Americans as the true Independence Day. In 2021 President Biden declared it a federal holiday, thanks to a push from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. 

Texas was among the first to recognize the day as a paid day off for government employees. Since then, more than a dozen other states have passed legislation that would allow state employees to observe the holiday as a paid day off; city leaders and Houstonians say they're ready to see more states and private companies get on board.

"When you're talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, you really can't give meaning to it if you don't celebrate Juneteenth," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.