You're invited to explore Galveston's rich African American Heritage. The sites, events, and people listed will help those interested in learning and sharing with family members the many ways African Americans in Galveston aided in the development of the city, state and nation.
Galveston has rich ties in African-American history as the birthplace of the Juneteenth holiday and as the site of many firsts in Texas for the African-American community. While many people think slavery ended on September 22, 1862 – the date Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation – many slaves weren’t freed until much later when news of the proclamation reached their towns. The last of those slaves lived in the South and were freed on June 19, 1865 after the Emancipation Proclamation was read on a harbor pier in Galveston. The celebration that took place that day in Galveston eventually became known as the “Juneteenth” holiday and is now celebrated in more than 40 states.
A constant source of stability for the African American community has been its churches. Fourteen churches that were organized more than 100 years ago are still in existence and serving the community today. Four of the churches are the first in Texas to be organized for African Americans in their denomination.
Galveston was also the first city in Texas to provide a secondary school and public library for African Americans. Events such as Juneteenth and pioneers such as politician Norris Wright Cuney, world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, and entertainer Barry White all had ties to the Galveston community and are highlighted in this section.
This also includes brief histories of the Greek-Letter Societies which have for a century been central to Galveston's African American Community. To schedule a tour, call (409) 392-0317. To download the official guidebook, Galveston's African American Historic Places and Pioneers, click here.
From the Blogs
January 2019 - W.K. Hebert & Co.
Published: Friday, January 04, 2019
Established in 1919 by William Kendal Hebert, the firm provided funeral and burial services for the island’s African-American community for more than six decades. Read more.
Black History Alive and Well in Galveston
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2017
On the outside walls of the African American Museum at 3427 Sealy St. are portraits of some prominent black Galvestonians, painted by artist E. Herron. Read more.
Smithsonian Welcomes Moody Mansion Slavery Artifacts
Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Gillins was going through boxes of the Moody Family archives to find a photo of Enoch Withers, W.L. Moody Jr.’s longtime valet and driver for Mary Moody Northen, when she discovered another historical treasure. Read more.
Pardon for Champion Jack Johnson Once Again in the Works
Published: Monday, December 14, 2015
For over a century, Galveston’s own Jack Johnson has remained a guilty man. Read more.
Buffalo Soldiers Bring History to Life for Isle Students
Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2015
good day for Ken Pollard is when he’s in front of kids eager to learn about the history and legacy of the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers, who proved their fighting prowess on major battlefields in the late 1800s. Read more.