Juneteenth Legacy Project tells a story the nation needs to hear

Hal Rochkind | The Galveston Daily News | May 20, 2021


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Sam Collins III speak at the Rotary Club of Galveston Island’s lunch meeting. Our club has a speaker every week, and we look forward to people who really have something to say.


Let me tell you, Sam had us captivated. He spoke to us about the Juneteenth Legacy Project and art installation “Absolute Equality” by artist Reginald Adams. Sam told us that “Juneteenth is not about enslavement and suffering. Juneteenth is about a spirit of renewal that celebrates freedom and opportunity.


“Absolute equality is not about equal results but about creating a society that supports all to become their very best selves to benefit a collective community.”


What a wonderful way to look at Juneteenth. The beautiful 5,000-square-foot public art mural overlooks the site where Juneteenth originated in Galveston. In a city that already has the Tall Ship Elissa, Bishop’s Palace, and famed historic neighborhoods like The Strand, the East End Historic District, and Silk Stocking District, the Juneteenth Legacy Project fits perfectly.


The project aims to recontextualize Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in U.S. history while properly telling the story of its genesis and historical, contemporary relevance.


This public art project is part of a long-term initiative of the Juneteenth Legacy Project to promote Opal Lee’s campaign to make Juneteenth a national holiday and celebrate the historical and contemporary significance of General Order No. 3. This order was issued in Galveston and proclaimed “absolute equality” for all peoples, freeing enslaved people in Texas and throughout the United States.


The Juneteenth Legacy Project will bring attention to the imperative of absolute equality and raise funds for educational outreach.


“Absolute Equality” reimagines an approach to monuments and memorials to reflect the nation’s diversity better and highlight a story that was extensively buried and marginalized until 2020. The storytelling space gives form and narrative to our beautiful, extraordinary and powerful diversity.


Did you know that many of the soldiers who came to Galveston with Gen. Gordon Granger to execute General Order No. 3 were African American? This is a story we need to tell. If you haven’t had a chance, stop by the fabulous mural; please do so.


You can find the Juneteenth Legacy Project at 22nd and Strand streets, where Granger’s headquarters stood. History is what makes Galveston so unique. “Absolute Equality” is something we can all be proud of and celebrate.