Several gather at the 22nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration at Restlawn Cemetery in Edinburg on Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Our History

Since 1993 the City of Edinburg, Texas has observed Juneteenth in the Rio Grande Valley with a memorial service honoring those buried in the “Black Cemetery,” Restlawn. 

Located in the northwest corner of the Hillcrest Cemetery at 1701 E. Richardson Road Restlawn is filled with stories that have never been told, of many African Americans who wanted nothing more than freedom and came to the Rio Grande Valley because it was a safe haven.

The founder of Juneteenth in the Rio Grande Valley was Lewis Callis who is buried in Restlawn. More recently, the Juneteenth celebration has been organized by a committee of citizens.

In 2019, this committee added the City of McAllen as a celebration site.

In 2020, the newly formed nonprofit Village in the Valley (ViVa) became a co-host of the event.

The goal is to add Juneteenth celebrations across the lower and upper Rio Grande Valley.   

Joseph Daniel Callis, Son of Lewis Callis. Click here to read his story.

“It (Juneteenth) means that we have so many opportunities that our ancestors didn’t have in the past.”

Sharon Smith, Member of the Juneteenth Observation Planning Committee