This mural in Galveston, Texas is a perfect example of the power of art to illustrate one important story that is often overlooked. Created by artist Reginald Adams it celebrates Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the US as proclaimed by General Gordon Granger on June 19th 1865 in Galveston.
Juneteenth is an important day for African Americans because it recognizes the arrival of Union forces to liberate enslaved peoples after years of bloody war.
The mural is a tribute to Juneteenth in Galveston and all over America, it is a historic site of the Emancipation Proclamation where Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and millions of other African Americans had been freed.
The author, Reginald Adams wants to raise awareness on absolute equality:
“It’s going to slap you in the face,” he says. “And if you’re curious, you’re going to want to know a little bit more, Everybody who sees that will be introduced to the story of Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth has been a state holiday since 1980, two years after Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, all over the United States, there are celebrations and commemorations, including festivals, parades, concerts and fireworks.
The artwork aims to remember the soldiers that passed in battle, but also the slaves who were released as a result of war.
"The people who fought in the Civil War were not just fighting for their own rights," adds Reginald. "They were fighting for the rights of all Americans regardless of colour, to be treated equally.”
It is a historic site as it was where General Gordon Granger signed an instrument on June 19th 1865 declaring that slavery in Texas was no more. President Andrew Johnson made sure it was printed in the official documents on July 29th 1865, after seeing no widespread celebrations or commemorations related to this event. For Adams, it's all about the location, as even if there are many artworks about Juneteenth gaining momentum, will be no other mural to be exactly placed in the spot where the events happened. It is the first of its kind in the city of Galveston.
This is a very important mural because it does not only mark the location where General Gordon Granger signed the emancipation proclamation on June 19, 1865, but it also placed near where one of the biggest slave trade markets once was. "That's why this mural is so important to me and why I will treat it with a lot of respect."
This is an educational mural as it brings the history of Juneteenth to life with the historical facts etched right into the surface:
"I wanted to visually teach people about history," explains Reginald Adams, "and I think we did that.
The mural is 40 feet tall and 125 feet long — a full 5,000 square feet big statement of freedom and equality.
"It’s a medium for people to be exposed to things they might not have been exposed to before," says Reginald, "That is what art is all about, making you see things differently."
The mural depicts Granger signing documents and also a map of slave routes from Africa to the New World, depicting the extensive transport of Africans to the Americas, it also shows soldiers marching and Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation and an astronaut in space.
"Mainly we’re going to be talking about Juneteenth," says Adams. "We want this to become more than a mural."
Reginald Adams said that his decision to put up this mural was based on his belief that "all people are equal". He said; "I believe that all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from, should be treated with dignity and respect." He also said that he didn't want his decision to focus on one group's history over another: "I don't think it’s just for African-Americans.
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