How to Honor, Celebrate and Savor Juneteenth

a girl poses in front of the ugk mural in downtown port arthur texas

Honor, Celebrate and Savor Black History in Port Arthur

Port Arthur’s Black history is a collection of stories surrounding courage, resilience, creativity and triumph. A vibrant art scene, fueled by creativity of Black artists, performers, developers and writers, continues to shape the city’s cultural landscape. See wallboards sharing the community’s rich and raw history before the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Explore the city’s local museums, murals, landmarks and heritage halls to see it all for yourself.

Introduction to Juneteenth

artist showing off his work in port arthur texas
John Manuel and his painting at the Texas Artist Museum in Port Arthur. Photo by Shalisa Roland.

Juneteenth holds profound significance as a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It became a federal holiday in 2021. Originating in Galveston, on June 19, 1865, it symbolizes the liberation of African Americans from the chains of enslavement. Juneteenth marks a pivotal moment in history. In Port Arthur, a city rich with Black heritage, Juneteenth resonates deeply, reflecting the resilience and spirit. As we honor this historic milestone, let’s also reflect on Port Arthur’s notable moments in Black history, from its roots to its vibrant present.

Middle Passage

Middle Passage Marker at "Popeye" Holmes Park is one of only two in Texas
Photo by Mary Meaux of Port Arthur News

Port Arthur is situated along the Sabine Lake and River region, which was also known as the Middle Passage. This is where captive African children, women and men first disembarked after the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The African American Cultural Society of Port Arthur continues to honor the Black community’s African ancestors and tell the story of the Middle Passage. In 2024 the Middle Passage Project installed a marker at Popeye Holmes Park to remind visitors at year-round celebrations of emancipation.

The West Side

westside development center in port arthur texas
Westside Development Center in Port Arthur, Texas.

Fast forward to post-enslavement, a neighborhood in Port Arthur served as a self-sustainable and vibrant African American community -The West Side. With segregation prevalent, the area was home to most Black residents before the ‘60s. This community flourished with schools, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, venues, churches, funeral homes and cafes.To honor the Black men and women who served and advocated for this thriving community, visit:

  • The West Side Development Center
  • YMCA
  • Carver Elementary Lincoln High
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Get up close and personal with some of southeast Texas’ deep-rooted historical records of Black History. Each of them stores documentation, recognizing Black Pioneers, schools and businesses, as well as social and civic clubs.

Black Excellence at Museum of the Gulf Coast

clarence frogman henry at the piano
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry performed around the UK in 1962 and was then invited to support the Beatles on a tour of the US and Canada in 1964. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Black excellence ricochets within the walls of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, many inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame for their superior talents in the entertainment industry. You can learn about various Black icons of southeast Texas by exploring their exhibits, galleries and archives. Here are a few notable musicians and athletes that have been recognized for their fame:

  • Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Pianist and Trombone player (pictured above)
  • Underground Kingz, American Hip-Hop Duo
  • James Issac Moore or “Slim Harpo”, Swamp Blues Musician
  • Barbara Jacket, Olympic Track Coach
  • Kevin Smith, Dallas Cowboys
  • Chuck McElroy, Philadelphia Phillies

2024 Juneteenth Events in Port Arthur

Flyer to promote Juneteenth parade

port arthur juneteenth flag raising

Port Arthur Juneteenth Facebook

Port Arthur is stacked with cultural events throughout the year, but #PATX knows how to celebrate Juneteenth. Join celebrations of freedom, fun and culture by attending one or more of the following events:

  • Juneteenth Flag Raising Ceremony – Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 11 a.m., Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse, 525 Lakeshore Drive. This event will begin with raising the official Juneteenth flag at the Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse and end with lunch in the park, where attendees can revel in live music, food, and activities. Attendees are advised to arrive no later than 10:30 a.m. to experience the full ceremony.
  • 40th Annual Juneteenth Parade – Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 6 p.m. The parade line-up begins at 5 p.m. at the corner of Proctor and Stillwell Boulevard and rolls at 6 p.m., ending at Gillam Circle. Events will follow at Barbara Jacket Park.
  • 6th Annual Juneteenth Softball Tournament & Festival- Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16, 2024 at Adams Park, 3400  S. Sgt Lucian Adams Dr. This popular two-day event is filled with high energy, from the live DJ and children’s play area to various food and craft vendors, as well as community softball teams competing for the Juneteenth Softball Tournament title.

To stay up to date on 2024 Juneteenth events and celebrations, follow the Port Arthur Juneteenth Facebook Page or search #PAJuneteenth2024 hashtags on social media channels. For a full list of things to do, eat, and experience in Port Arthur, go to VisitPortArthurTX.com.

Black-Owned Restaurants

menu and restaurant wall

The taste of Black culture and history is something to savor around the world, but there’s something about the smoked Texas flavors and Creole seasonings that sink deep into Port Arthur’s undeniable food scene. Whether you’re craving Caribbean, seeking something from the Soul, or desperate for a drive-thru daiquiri to beat heat, here’s a short list of Black-owned restaurants and establishments that contribute to Port Arthur’s culinary legacy:

  • Amazing Blazing Catering, Barbecue
  • Good Eatz & Catering, Creole/Cajun
  • Wing Junkiez, American
  • Edith’s Place, Soul Food
  • Humidor’s Cigar Lounge, Cigars & Cocktails
  • Landlord’s Daiquiri Den, Drive-Thru Daiquiri

This list only scratches the surface of the Black-owned culinary offerings in southeast Texas. Discover a full list Black-owned restaurants and establishments in the region by following the Southeast Texas Black Owned Restaurants Facebook Page.

The Soul of Port Arthur: Self-Guided Heritage Tour

teacher with children in port arthur texas

TAKE THE TOUR

Black history pours into the soul of Port Arthur year-round, from historical landmarks, artistic exhibitions to seasonal programs and events. Read this story on African-American Heritage in southeast Texas for more insights.


About Shalisa Roland

professional headshot shalisa roland

Author Shalisa Roland has Texas and Southern Louisiana roots and a passion for food, travel and history, which has brought her to check out Port Arthur twice. We can’t wait to have her again.

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