Portraits of Freedom: Juneteenth MetroArt

The city is buzzing with excitement as Austin readies itself for the annual Juneteenth celebration.

We are equally excited about the upcoming festivities. Walking and riding in the annual Juneteenth parade has been a tradition of Capital Metro.

To get the bus ready for the parade, we’re inviting Austinites to help us create Portraits of Freedom, a community MetroArt project consisting of hundreds of self-portraits made out of vinyl and installed on a 35-foot bus. Portraits will be created by the general public, 100 students at AISD schools, and Capital Metro operators and staff, in collaboration with the Carver Museum and Cultural Center and Theatre Action Project (TAP).


Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day,” is the oldest known African American celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which declared that all slaves living in states still in rebellion were “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” However, African Americans in Texas were not aware of the proclamation, until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, the commander of U.S. Troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and read General Order 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

On January 1, 1980, a bill was passed making Juneteenth an official Texas state holiday.

Portraits of Freedom honors both the spirit of Juneteenth and the eastside community today. 1865 was a time when one’s identity was oft attempted to be defined by others. Portraiture, by definition, is an artistic representation of a person in a particular moment in time. By creating a portrait in your own image and by your own hand, it is a declaration of having the freedom to define who you are, as you see yourself in that moment in time. Collectively, our portraits define the multifaceted face of our community and city.

The community is invited to join in the MetroArt-making fun this Saturday, June 16, 2012, 12pm to 4pm, as a part of the Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Family Fun Day. Activities, including music, food, games and fun, are FREE and open to the public. For more information on the Family Fun Day, please visit http://www.austintexas.gov/event/juneteenth-carver or call the Carver at 512-974-4926. Look for the Capital Metro bus in the north parking lot, near Kealing Middle School.

Be sure to come see the Portraits of Freedom bus riding in the annual Greater East Austin Youth Association’s Juneteenth parade and celebration on Tuesday, June 19th, 10am to 12pm, For more information on the parade, including the parade route, please visit http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/

We are looking forward to celebrating a happy and safe Juneteenth. With active MetroRail service running throughout the week, please visit www.stayoffthetracks.com to view rail safety reminders for you and your family.

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