Celebrations of "Juneteenth"--the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 emancipation of Texas slaves--were first held in homes and churches. Later, festivities took place outdoors. By 1915, Huntsville blacks, led by former slave Jane Ward (d. 1933), had moved the annual observance to this site, known as Emancipation Park. Dave Williams, another former slave, organized the Band and Park Association to raise the down payment on the property. In 1933, R. A. Josey, a white businessman, completed purchase of the land for use by the black community. The 9.04 acre site became a city park in 1963.