Juneteenth Family Day

& CT Open House Day

Celebrate Juneteenth and honor the contributions of Black artists and creative voices with family-friendly art-making and close looking activities. Dive into more Juneteenth celebrations with The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

What is Juneteenth?

  • Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
  • Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
  • Note that this was two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863. 
  • The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact in Texas because of the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order.
  • June 19th, 2021 will mark the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth.


Artist: Todd Gray, American born 1954
Title: Cosmic Journey (1619)
Date: 2019
Medium: Four archival pigment prints in artist’s frames and found frames, UV laminate

Todd Gray’s photographic ‘assemblages’ explore the history and enduring impact of European colonialism, slavery, and the African diaspora. All are personal subjects for the artist, who has only traced his family lineage back three generations because of the legacy of slavery. In his work, Gray exposes cultural hierarchies of power by pairing images of African portrait subjects and natural landscapes with formal European gardens and monuments built on wealth gained from the slave trade. The photographs derive from his extensive archive of images created over decades of travel in Europe and Africa.

Look closer:

  • What do you notice about the work’s composition? 
  • How are the images arranged together in each ‘assemblage’?
  • Notice how some frames conceal parts of another image. What parts remain uncovered? 
  • Why do you think the artist overlapped certain images with a mixture of old and new frames?

Click below to take a virtual tour of the Todd Gray/ Matrix 186 show.

Screenshot of Todd Gray / MATRIX 186 virtual tour.

Community Connections

Listen to Leslie Manselle, of Leslie Manselle Arts, give a brief presentation on the history of Juneteenth.

Story-time / Tiempo de cuentos

Hear Docent Cassandra Butler provide a Spanish translation of Walter Dean Myers’ Toussaint L’ouverture: The Fight for Haiti’s Freedom which features illustrations by one of Ms. Butler’s favorite artist, Jacob Lawrence. Learn how this historic event is connected to Juneteenth and other “Freedom Days” celebrations. 

Escuche a Docent Cassandra Butler proporcionar una traducción al español de Toussaint L’ouverture: The Fight for Haiti’s Freedom de Walter Dean Myers, que presenta ilustraciones de uno de los artistas favoritos de Butler, Jacob Lawrence.


Feeling inspired to design your own artwork? Grab your art supplies and create alongside visual artist Andre Rochester who demonstrates art fundamentals like color mixing.