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Galveston, Texas “Freedom Walk” examines the events of June 16th when the last of the enslaved people were freed during Emancipation

GALVESTON, Texas – The most popular Emancipation celebration on June 16 takes place in Galveston, Texas, where the last of the enslaved people were freed.

The city has designated five places where you can walk to explore how the events of June 19, 1865 unfolded.

Galveston Island is a coastal city about an hour’s drive from Houston.

There is a small plaque at Pier 22 commemorating what happened there.

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About half a block from the plaque, ships from the middle passage docked, and where there is a building now was Sydnor’s auction house, selling black men, women and children every Tuesday and Friday. It was the largest slave auction west of New Orleans.

“Welcome to the Nia Cultural Center, where we expand the story of Freedom’s Journey,” said local historian Sam Collins.

RELATED: ABC7 commemorates June 16 with ‘Our Chicago: Freedom Day’ special.

Collins said that after the Civil War, Port Galveston was the most distant and last to surrender.

When asked if ending slavery was just about goodwill or if it was about politics, Collins said, “Oh, it was actually a tool of war used by Lincoln to weaken the South.”

SEE ALSO: How People Came to Celebrate June 16 in the United States

Illinois colored troops arrived alongside Union soldiers to enforce a series of executive orders. The third order demanded absolute equality for all slaves, but news didn’t travel quickly, so troops had to get creative.

Reedy Chapel is a church in the parish where enslaved people used to worship. In the four walls, many learned of their freedom.

RELATED: ‘Our Chicago: Black Freedom’: June 16 story celebrated in half-hour special

“There is a strong legend that the general orders were nailed to the front door of the Reedy Chapel AME Church,” said Sharon Gillins, genealogist.

Before leaving Texas we visited Opal Lee in Dallas.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes to see if it really happened,” she said

RELATED: President Obama on keys to surviving democracy, healing segregation

At 95, she’s known as the “Grandmother of June 16” and has campaigned for decades to make it a federal holiday.

“I say to young people, make yourself a one-man committee. We cannot rely on anyone else to do it. It is up to them to make the changes that will make this country what it is

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Dais Johnston

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