Juneteenth Emancipation Trail Bike Ride: Houston retraces route freed slaves traveled from Galveston

Houston and Harris County residents and lawmakers gathered Sunday morning to remember the historic trails freed slaves crossed after learning slavery ended on June 19, 1865. 

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While the national holiday we know now as Juneteenth, is days away, Harris Co. Commissioner Rodney Ellis hosted the fourth annual Emancipation Trail Bike Ride, which covers the route freedmen and women traveled from Galveston to Houston. 

"I will be proud to ride alongside other elected officials, activists, and community members as I reflect on how far we’ve come as a county," Commissioner Ellis said ahead of the race. "We will cover 60 miles across two counties on one of only two historic trails in the nation that celebrates Black history. We will retrace the path taken by formerly enslaved people as they walked to freedom."

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The riders began at the iconic Ready Chapel A.M.E Church, where the announcement of slavery ending was first read, and would make stops in Texas City, La Marque, Dickinson, and League City to see historic spots that hold special significance to African American history. 

It would conclude at Houston's Emancipation Park, where Commissioner Ellis and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who sponsored legislation to have the route named the Emancipation National Historic Trail, 

MORE: Hidden history: What happened after freedom came to slaves in June 1865

Additionally, Harris County, with help from the County Engineering Department and the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA), are making significant investments through inclusive transportation, such as $53 million for a HCTRA plan to add 236 miles of trailways throughout Harris County.

"Like emancipation, inclusive transportation is a slow-moving wave," Commissioner Ellis said.  "And though we are free from slavery, we are not free from oppression. We are not free from structural racism. We are not free from policies that continue to decentralize, dehumanize and demoralize our communities."