Freedom! Juneteenth embodies the ideal written in the Constitution that “all men are equal.” When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, word didn’t reach the slaves of Galveston, Texas until June 19, 1865, when Union forces freed the enslaved people of the area.
Enlisted in the union forces were segregated all black-units, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, a nickname given to them by the Native Americans for their fierce fighting spirit and hair similar to the buffalo of the Great Plains.
Juneteenth cements the idea that we are not free until we are all free. Such a holiday calls for celebration, and what better place to celebrate than the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum.
Events at the Museum
The Museum kicked off the week with a Juneteenth-themed version of M.A.D. (Museum After Dark), a very popular monthly event. At the event, guests enjoyed barbecue, drinks, numerous board games, and music, all while keeping the exhibits open for tours. “I’ve been coming to M.A.D for a few months now, each time has been better than the last,” said one visitor.
Next, on the eve of Juneteenth, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum put together a Juneteenth festival to remember. Visitors were treated with live action performances of Harriet Tubman and others.
One visitor, Patricia, was moved to tears after watching the Harriet Tubman live performance, “it’s so deep…it hurts because I feel that some of our young people are ashamed of our history. What they don’t understand is what we forget, we’re doomed to repeat.”
Her husband, Ike, also loved the performance. “When you read, you often miss the intimacy of the information being taught. The demonstration really drives the point home,” he said.
Next, we were proud to show off “herstory” with our new women veterans exhibit which highlights the stories and achievements of women in the armed forces. “Herstory” not only includes stories of women in the past like Cathay Williams, but also contains stories of present female heroes like Vanessa Guillen and Jasmin Moghbeli.
While trekking through the museum it’s more than likely you happened upon our archivist, Jason, who was so kind to take some of the Museum artifacts and put them on display so that visitors could interact and gain a deeper understanding of the history behind them.
Finally, we had a room dedicated to the history of Juneteenth and how it came to be a holiday. Of course, our Juneteenth wasn’t all about education. There were drinks, food, games, and a live mural painting.
When asked, some of the visitors wanted to give their opinion on Juneteenth and the Museum. “In my home state of Kentucky, we celebrate August 8 because that was the emancipation date of our area, so Juneteenth is new to us,” stated Ruby Tolliver. “It’s nice to see the nation and museum celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday and get the recognition it deserves.”