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The National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth

On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and shared General Order Number 3, which proclaimed all slaves to be free. The announcement came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It became a National holiday in 2021 thanks to the relentless work of Fort Worth’s very own Opal Lee. Known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” she also operated a very small museum in the Southside neighborhood and has been advocating for its growth and expansion for years.

Well, the day has finally come. The National Juneteenth museum is going to be built here in Fort Worth, Texas, right where Opal wanted. Estimated for completion in 2026, the 50,000 square foot design depicts a black box space, a 250-seat theater, and even a full-service food hall.

a close up of a flower garden

The museum will honor Lee’s legacy by educating the public on Juneteenth history, serve as an economic boost for the Southside neighborhood, and become the “epicenter for education and celebration that is dedicated to building opportunities to advance future generations,” museum organizers write.

15 million dollars has been pledged to the project by the city of Fort Worth. However, the entire project is estimated to cost 70 million dollars by the time the museum is finished. Jarred Howard, the museum’s CEO, is leading the campaign to raise the remaining funds.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was hired as lead architect, partnering with the local team of KAI Enterprises. When creating the design for the museum, the history of the neighborhood was vital in respecting the neighborhood and not displacing its current residents. In the 1960’s, the neighborhood took an economic downturn as a highway was constructed right down its middle, isolating it from downtown. This history was key for museum designers, as it explained the community’s desire and need for the building to remain modest in height but still visible from the highway so visitors would notice and want to visit. The community also expressed that the building must be environmentally friendly, bring the community together, have outdoor spaces and plenty of space to showcase local artists and murals.
This homage to the black community and the black pioneers that built this city is a long, long time coming and will be an integral and important part of the city of Fort Worth for many years to come.

Written by Annie, a local expert guide for Fort Worth Crawling. After living in NYC for three years, this Fort Worth native is excited to return to her roots in Panther City. She enjoys traveling and the great outdoors and is passionate about the arts, community, tacos, and (of course) Texas beer. Join Annie for history and beer on Fort Worth Crawling’s Cowboy Pub Crawl!

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