Galveston, birthplace of June 19, honors the late legislator who led the charge to make this holiday a public holiday.

June 19, the day enslaved Texans knew they were free, became a public holiday in 1980. Today we honored the late state legislator who made this happen.

Galveston, Texas –

  1. The Ashton Villa in Galveston hosted the 43rd Al Edwards June Celebration on Saturday. The late former Houston State Representative worked tirelessly to make June 19 a public holiday.

His statue is in front of Ashton Villa, where on June 19, 1865, it was proclaimed that enslaved Texans were free.

“That’s why we meet at Ashton Villa, there is a statue of my father, because he knew the importance of recognizing the fact that all slaves were not free.” said Edward’s daughter, Alana Edwards-Holloway. “Until we were all free, none of us were free.”

Her father introduced a bill making June 19 a public holiday. It was passed into law in 1979 and first enforced in Texas in 1980.

“Many people don’t know the significance of his work around June 19th and everything he did to make it not only a public holiday and have it become a public holiday in 35 other states, but his vision for becoming a national holiday.” Edwards-Holloway explained.

Edwards passed away in 2020, a year before the public holiday became a national holiday.

Alana says that this event is a time for reflection.

“I know that his presence is here. It will always be here, and I know that his vision has come true.”

Over the past 43 years, Edward’s June 10th celebration has become one of the highlights of Galveston.

Alana and her other siblings have taken over the non-profit organization Edwards’s Juneteenth USA.

She says she continues her public education work where her father left off.

“This is an important part of history and everyone has the right to know the truth about our history.”

WATCH: Full presentation of HOW 11 “June 1865–2022: the pursuit of economic equality”.

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