African Americans have played a major role in the growth of Texas for hundreds of years under different flags. Ships from around the world came to Galveston, a major seaport town, to trade goods and auction slaves. According to a census taken in 1848 several hundred slaves resided in Galveston; many worked on the waterfront and in the cotton industry. Galveston was an important city for trading goods and relaying information. It was here the slaves of Texas learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865.


A constant source of stability for the African American community has been its churches. Fourteen churches that were organized more than 100 years ago are still in existence and serving the community today. Four of the churches are the first in Texas to be organized for African Americans in their denomination.

Galveston was also the first city in Texas to provide a secondary school and public library for African Americans. Events such as Juneteenth and pioneers such as politician Norris Wright Cuney, world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and entertainer Barry White all had ties to the Galveston community.

Galveston’s African American Historic Places and Pioneers, will show you the sites, events and people that contribute to Galveston’s rich African American Heritage.