Emancipation Park study needs public input
Emancipation Park historic marker.

Time is running out for the public to weigh in on a proposed Emancipation National Historic Trail, which would highlight historic sites from Galveston to Houston. The focus would be on those central to the migration of formerly enslaved individuals following news of their freedom.

Freedmen’s Town in Houston’s Fourth Ward, which recently became the City of Houston’s first heritage site, is one of them.

The National Park Service (NPS) is looking for public input for the Emancipation National Historic Trail Feasibility Study. The proposed Emancipation NHT extends approximately 51 miles from the Osterman Building and Reedy Chapel in Galveston, along Texas State Highway 3 and Interstate Highway 45 North, to Freedmen’s Town, then to Independence Heights and Emancipation Park in Houston.

It follows the migration route taken by newly freed (formerly enslaved) Blacks and other persons of African descent from the major 19th century seaport town of Galveston to the burgeoning community of Freedmen’s Town, located in the Fourth Ward.

The Emancipation National Historic Trail (made possible by Sen. John Cornyn and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee) would become only the second trail in the NPS system and would recognize the migration route of African Americans post Juneteenth — June 19, 1865 — which is now a federal holiday and unique to Texas, but celebrated all over the world.

“We are looking to get some stories people might have of immigration from Galveston to Houston,” said National Park Service National Trails Office planner Jill Jensen, who is in charge of the feasibility study for the Emancipation-focused trail.

 The public is urged to take part and answer the following questions:

  1. What can you tell us about migration out of Galveston and into Houston after Emancipation? Do you have family or community stories that help to explain this historical activity?
  1. Are there historic sites or trail remnants associated with post-Emancipation migration along the Galveston to Houston corridor, or anywhere else, that might be protected and/or developed for public appreciation?
  1. Where can the public visit sites or areas associated with the post-Emancipation era for recreational opportunities or historic appreciation (e.g. historic sites, educational exhibits, museums, hiking or outdoor access)?
  1. How might recognition of post-Emancipation migration from Galveston to Houston, and recognition of post-Emancipation sites and events, affect you or your community?
  1. How would you like to see migration after Emancipation recognized and commemorated?

Deadline to submit information

March 31, 2022

Online: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=95793