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Who is Al Edwards?
Al Edwards is considered the Father of the Juneteenth Holiday, making Texas its national birthplace.
He was born in Houston, TX. He is the sixth child of eighteen children born to Rev. E. L. Edwards Sr. and Josephine Radford Edwards.
He graduated from Phyllis Wheatly High School and received a bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University in 1966.
He was certified in corrective therapy at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
He was part of the Civil Rights Movement during the 60's where he participated in peaceful marches and demonstrations throughout the United States with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mr. Carl Stocks, Rev. Bill Lawson and others.
He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
In 1978, he was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives and has been re-elected for the office for nine terms.
In 1979, he wrote and sponsored the bill, House Bill 1016, making June 19th, "Juneteenth", a state holiday. This is the first state paid Juneteenth holiday in the United States.
He founded Juneteenth U.S.A. in 1979.
He was initiated on Oct. 19, 1979, into North Side Lodge #214 of U M W Scottish Rite Grand Large A F & A M of Texas Inc. He is a Master Mason.
He was inducted into "Who's Who in America" in 1989.
He received an Honorary Doctor's Degree from the University of Belize in 1983.
He was a member of Push International Trade Bureau Board from 1983 to 1989.
In 1984 and 1988, Rep. Al Edwards was State Chairman for Jesse Jackson's campaign for President of the United States.
He founded Operation Justus, a community based organization in 1986.
In 1987, he was arrested and went to jail for peacefully demonstrating on the Embassy of South Africa in Houston, Texas. Others on the national level were Dick Gregory, Jesse Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Harry Bellefonte and many others trying to end apartheid in South Africa.
In 1989, he traveled to Mozambique, Johannesburg, and Angola, South Africa on a peace-seeking mission.
He served as Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus from 1991 to 1997.
Representative Edwards was called to the ministry in April 1993 at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church.
In 1993, Rep. Rev. Al Edwards ministered in Greensburg and Moscow Russia.
In December 1993, he was invited to the first White House Christmas Party sponsored by President Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In May 1994, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the African American Biographical Association in Atlanta, GA.
In August of 1995, Representative Edwards was elected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus.
In June 1996, he received his Doctor of Divinity from World Bible Christian University, in San Antonio, Texas.
What is the Commission?
Texas made History once again in 1998 with the passing of House Bill 1216 which created the Texas Emancipation Juneteenth Cultural & Historical Commission (TEJCHC), sponsored by Representative Al Edwards of Houston Texas during the 76th Legislature 1997, the only commission of its kind in the country. The Commission is utilizing and working with numerous entities including the Texas Historical Commission, Attorney General, Texas Comptroller, and the Texas Register.
The Commission's primary objective is to erect a Juneteenth Memorial Monument on the South grounds of the State Capitol. This project is well underway with a design and funding in the works. TEJCHC will also place Juneteenth Monuments and Markers in various historical parts of Texas including Galveston, Texas. The Commission will also develop a Juneteenth Museum, Cultural and Educational institute, Recreation Center and Park, and plans to implement Juneteenth history into the Texas History schoolbooks.
The Commission is composed of six (6) Commissioners appointed by the Governor, five (5) Ex officio members, two (2) appointed by the Speaker of the House, two (2) appointed by the Lt. Governor, and the Executive Director of the Texas Historical Commission.
The first official meeting was held June 6,1998 in Austin, Texas. Representative Al Edwards called the meeting to order. Members present were Stella Roland of Austin, Eddie Richardson of Lubbock, Dr. Maceo Dailey of El Paso, Linda Tarr of Homton, Byron Miller of San Antonio, Willard Stimpson of Dallas, representatives were present for Sen. Royce West, Sen. Rodney Ellis, Rep. Patricia Gray. Larry Oaks of The Texas Historical Commission and Rep. Al Edwards were present.
The Commission unanimously elected Representative Edwards as permanent chair for the life or duration of the Commission. It is now functioning according to the directives set out in H.B. 1216 (State law), and will develop goals, objectives, plans, and time tables in order to be effective.
If you would like to get involved with Representative Edwards' and the Commission's efforts to bring Juneteenth history to our students and help fund the Juneteenth Monuments and Markers,