Fort Worth-Based BNSF Railway Donates $2M to National Juneteenth Museum

The museum, currently being built in Fort Worth's Historic Southside neighborhood, has a $70 million fundraising goal and is slated to open in 2025. The 50,000-square-foot Juneteenth Museum center will also host guest lectures, community events, and performances in its 250-seat amphitheater, while offering a food hall, store fronts, and a business incubator to boost local entrepreneurship.

The National Juneteenth Museum got a hometown boost Tuesday when Fort Worth-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway announced a $2 million donation to support its ongoing construction and enduring mission. 

BNSF Railway said its contribution “underscores BNSF’s commitment to promoting education and community development in Fort Worth.”

Construction on the museum is underway in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood, with a public opening scheduled for Juneteenth in 2025. The museum has a $70 million fundraising goal and has had other high-dollar help in the past, including a $15 million dollar pledge from the city of Fort Worth in September 2022 and a $1 million grant awarded by Bank of America in July 2023. 

The planned National Juneteenth Museum is designed by the New York office of Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group, which built Google’s HQ in California. [Rendering courtesy City of Fort Worth]

Designed by the New York office of Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group, the 50,000-square-foot Juneteenth Museum center will also host guest lectures, community events, and performances in its 250-seat amphitheater. An on-site food hall will feature emerging chefs and green space will offer places for families to gather and connect. To help revitalize the community, a business incubator and storefronts will offer opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

‘Shining a light on those who have paved the way’

BNSF’s Zak Andersen

“BNSF is proud to partner with the National Juneteenth Museum to help honor American history and foster opportunities for economic and cultural growth, right near our headquarters here in Fort Worth,” Zak Andersen, VP of corporate relations and president of the BNSF Railway Foundation, said in a statement. “We look forward to all the museum will bring to the community and the country by shining a light on those who have paved the way for future generations.”

Designed to foster an ecosystem for economic and cultural development, the museum aims to be as much of a catalyst for its surrounding community as a museum commemorating June 19, 1865—the day enslaved people in Texas received word of their freedom through a proclamation by a U.S. Army general.

BNSF, which will get naming rights as a result of its multi-million-dollar gift, said the national museum will stand as the cornerstone the Southside neighborhood’s revitalization efforts while serving as an economic driver for the city and Tarrant County through “job creation, tax revenue, and non-local patrons spending money at local businesses and establishments during their visit.”

“We’re incredibly grateful to BNSF Railway, a world-class service provider and highly regarded community stakeholder, for its generous investment,” museum President and CEO Jarred Howard said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that guests of the National Juneteenth Museum will be made aware of BNSF’s commitment through this inaugural naming rights partnership.”

Rendering of an interior of the National Juneteenth Museum [Image: Bjarke Ingels Group and KAI Enterprises]

‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’ Opal Lee visited BNSF headquarters last week

Fort Worth’s Opal Lee—known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” for her advocacy of the federal Juneteenth holiday, visited BNSF headquarters in Fort Worth and spoke to employees last week, the railway announced in a LinkedIn post. Lee’s visit was hosted by BNSF’s Black Organization for Leadership Development, or BOLD—a business resource group that works to advance BNSF’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The museum’s public opening is currently planned for Juneteenth on June 19, 2025.

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R E A D   N E X T

  • Demolition has begun at the museum's site in Fort Worth's Historic Southside neighborhood, with plans to break ground for the museum later this year. At a media event Saturday, the museum's new executive strategist, Dr. Lauren Cross (seen above with Opal Lee), was introduced and new renderings of the museum were unveiled.

  • "The National Juneteenth Museum will be a social and economic anchor in Fort Worth that will serve as a catalyst for community education and growth," Mike Pavell, Bank of America Fort Worth president, said in announcing the $1 million grant.

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