National Juneteenth Museum is Coming to Fort Worth

A rendering of the Juneteenth museum planned for the city of Fort Worth. Officials overseeing the project aim for it to open in time for the holiday in 2024. (Credit…BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group & Atchain)

In 2016, at 89, Opal Lee walked from her home in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., to help get Juneteenth made a federal holiday, which it finally was in 2021. And for nearly 20 years, she has operated a modest Juneteenth Museum in a property on Rosedale Street, which also served as a filming location for the 2020 movie “Miss Juneteenth.”

But Lee, now 95 and known as “the grandmother of Juneteenth” — or more affectionately as “Ms. Opal” — wanted a more permanent institution that would commemorate the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

That vision is getting closer to reality as plans move forward for the National Juneteenth Museum, a $70 million project that aims to put a shovel in the ground before the end of the year and to open in time for the Juneteenth holiday in 2024.

The 50,000-square-foot museum, designed by the architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, will explore the events surrounding June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, telling the people of the state that — in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation — “all slaves are free.” The 13th Amendment, ratified months later, abolished slavery in the final four border states that had not been subjected to President Abraham Lincoln’s order.

“The plans are beautiful. It’s off the chain,” Lee said in an interview. “Juneteenth means freedom to me. We want people to understand the past, we don’t want it watered down.”

The museum, which will have a significant educational component, will also help ensure that the country does not let slavery “happen again,” added Lee, who has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. “And it could, if we’re complacent.”

The project, at the corner of Rosedale Street and Evans Avenue in Fort Worth, endeavors to revitalize the surrounding area, which went into decline in the 1960s, after being divided by the I-35W highway. A 2019 study conducted by the data company MySidewalk showed the area’s median household income as about $26,000 and that a third of the residents live below the federal poverty level.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin