Former U.S. Rep Beto O’Rourke joined a large, diverse crowd at a Juneteenth festival in Menard Park on Saturday. The visit marked O’Rourke’s first to Galveston for Juneteenth.
“Everyone has welcomed us so warmly back to Galveston,” he said. “Here we are in one of the most important places historically in the United States of America, or on the planet for that matter, 157 years after this critically important moment in our history.”
This year marks the 157th anniversary of the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger. The order freed enslaved people in Texas, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
O’Rourke, a Democrat running against incumbent Greg Abbott in the November general election for governor, said regardless of political affiliation, as a society, we should all fight against racism.
“I don’t expect everyone to do the right thing overnight, or to accept some of the changes we need to make immediately, he told the crowd.
“We need our fellow Texans to understand our fellow Texans. When we do that, we are good people, Republican, Democrats and Independents, and we will want to do the right thing.”
This year’s gubernatorial campaign marks O’Rourke’s third run for office since 2018. After being elected to the 16th Congressional district of Texas in 2012, he lost his bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 and was unsuccessful in a run to become the Democratic Party nominee for President in 2020.
O’Rourke plans to make at least one more visit to Galveston before the Nov. 8 election, campaign officials said.