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The 50,000-square-foot center will hold the museum itself, a theater for lectures and performances, a food hall, a business incubator for new minority-owned businesses, and a public courtyard and greenspace. Courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group

Ground will be broken this year on the National Juneteenth Museum on the Historic South Side. A combined vision of the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Dr. Opal Lee, and community leader and museum CEO Jarred Howard, the multipurpose space will open in 2026.

The idea started with a conversation in Lee’s living room in 2018. At the time, Howard, who grew up on the South Side, was an executive with the Chamber of Commerce, and he had to deliver some bad news to his family friend: The chamber could not financially support one of Lee’s causes.

The Grandmother of Juneteenth, Dr. Opal Lee, helped create the National Juneteenth Museum.
Courtesy Opal Lee

“And what about you, Jarred?” Howard recalls Lee saying. “What will you do?”

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Howard shared with her a vision that he had held in his heart for years. He imagined a multipurpose campus that would serve the community not just as a museum but also as a gathering place, entertainment venue, and economic center. He said he envisioned the museum on the South Side, where Lee is also from, but he had no land.

“Look no further,” she told him. “You have the property you need,” and offered him the lot she owned on the 900 block of East Rosedale Street.

Lee had operated her own Juneteenth museum out of a house on the property. The holiday, long celebrated in Texas, commemorates the date Union troops came to Galveston in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and freed more than 250,000 people still enslaved. The retired schoolteacher began fighting for national recognition for Juneteenth in 2016. She started a walking campaign from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., stopping to make speeches and gather signatures on a petition along the way. In June 2021, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan law declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Lee and Howard have worked closely with each other and with the community on plans for the museum since the start. Howard said members of the Historic Southside Neighborhood Association have advised the museum board at every step of the process.

Howard: “The South Side is [filled] with historical events and figures, many of whom are no longer reflected in our textbooks and annals.”
Courtesy Jarred Howard
“The South Side is [filled] with historical events and figures, many of whom are no longer reflected in our textbooks and annals,” he added. “As the city of Fort Worth grows and evolves, I wanted to make sure this pocket of Fort Worth was included.”

Designed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) with lead designer Douglass Alligood and executive architect KAI Enterprises, the 50,000-square-foot center will hold the museum itself, a theater for lectures and performances, a food hall, a business incubator for new minority-owned businesses, and a public courtyard and greenspace.

The food hall will be a centerpiece of the National Juneteenth Museum.
Courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group
Ground will be broken this year on the National Juneteenth Museum on the Historic South Side.
Courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group

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