This Weekend: Children Museum's Freedom Fest Showcases Books, Art and More

This Weekend: Children Museum's Freedom Fest Showcases Books, Art and More

Photo courtesy Children's Museum Houston

ON SUNDAY, JUNE 16, the Children’s Museum Houston celebrates Juneteenth with a special Juneteenth Freedom Fest, an afternoon of art, poetry, literature, and music where children (and grown-ups!) can learn more about this important holiday, the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery. It also celebrates the vast contributions of African Americans to the social, political and cultural life of the United States.


The afternoon at CMH includes a special storytime reading with Houston author Tonya Duncan Ellis, who will recite her recently released children’s picture book They Built Me For Freedom: The story of Juneteenth and Houston's Emancipation Park.

Tonya Duncan Ellis (photo by Madison DiMarco)

In this unique and beautifully illustrated book, Duncan writes in succinct, melodious prose from the perspective of Houston’s Emancipation Park, which occupies 10 acres in Houston’s historic Third Ward. The land was purchased in 1872 by three formerly enslaved church and community leaders to commemorate the events of June 19, 1865, when, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, 250,000 enslaved people of Texas found out they were free. In the era of Jim Crow, it was the only public park in Houston open to Black people, and since then has been the site of community celebrations, sporting events, and social protests.

Toward the conclusion of her book, on a page illustrated with butterflies in flight and a grandmother and granddaughter dancing in the park, their shadows cast on the green grass, Ellis writes, “While they enjoy my beautiful grounds, they recall their ancestors and all they overcame. Standing strong. Walking proud. Singing songs of jubilee . . . running free.”

Celebrated Texas poet, novelist, and photographer Van G. Garrett will also be at the story time to read his book, Juneteenth: A Picture Book for Kids Celebrating Black Joy.

Other events for Sunday's Juneteenth Freedom Fest include a DJ set in the Kids’ Hall Alcove by DJ Ferbidden; an opportunity for visitors to help paint a community mural; Ted Ellis’ Juneteenth Champions art exhibition, which highlights 29 historically influential African Americans; and a music, poetry and dance performance by Express Children’s Theatre.

Additional festivities and exhibits will be activated on Wednesday, June 19.

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