The dance between Lee and Trump won’t last long, but their partnership is leading to something that will endure
By Senator John Cornyn
Rare, if ever, has there been a time when President Donald Trump has made Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee want to dance with joy.
The Houston Democrat has been one of Trump’s most persistent critics since he took office, and the president hasn’t had much good to say about Lee. But let’s give credit to both, as well as Sen. John Cornyn, for working together to honor African American history and telling a more expansive and accurate story of how critical slavery was to the development of the state and nation.
“I feel like doing a dance,” Lee said after Trump signed a bill co-authored by Lee and Cornyn that paves a path toward a 51-mile Emancipation Trail from Galveston to Houston.
The bill commissions a study for this trail and is a necessary first step toward a national landmark commemorating when Texas slaves learned they were free. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and Union troops sailed into Galveston Bay, where he issued General Order No. 3 informing them of the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln had signed nearly 2½ years earlier.
The proposed trail would begin at the building where Granger made his announcement and would go along Interstate 45 and Texas 3 to Freedman’s Town before ending in Emancipation Park in Houston.
After that first Juneteenth, Freedman’s Town, located in Houston’s Fourth Ward, became a destination for newly free blacks from Texas and Louisiana.
The Emancipation Trail will be only the second National Historic Trail honoring African American history, the other one being the 54 miles between Selma and Montgomery in Alabama — which, in a march led by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, capped a civil rights campaign that would lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Given the long presence of African Americans in the United States and their deep cultural impact, it’s shameful no other trails acknowledge their presence and contributions.
This is even more reason why a tip of the hat should be given to Lee, Cornyn and Trump. Their bipartisan effort to give a fuller version of our nation’s history should
inspire other efforts and lead to more National Historic Trails honoring those too often ignored.
The dance between Lee and Trump won’t last long, but their partnership is leading to something that will endure.