One of the visionaries behind the planned National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth has been appointed chief executive officer by the museum’s board.
Former Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce executive Jarred Howard worked behind the scenes for over seven years to spark the vision of building a National Juneteenth Museum to support economic revitalization in the surrounding Southside community.
The historic Southside neighborhood in Fort Worth once was a thriving African American community deemed the “Black Wall Street of the South,” according to the museum. But years of disinvestment and neglect resulted from suburban sprawl and its changing population dynamics.
The museum, a $70 million project, plans to open for the Juneteenth holiday in 2025.
‘This project is personal’
Currently, the Southside neighborhood has the state’s lowest life expectancy and one of the highest infant mortality rates, according to a 2019 UT Southwestern study, the museum said.
“For the better part of the last 30 years or so, the neighborhood has been downtrodden and destitute. This development will be catalytic in the resurgence of its economic and cultural health,” Howard said in a statement.
In his new role, Howard is responsible for operations, construction, and accelerating fundraising to achieve the museum’s $70 million campaign goal.
In Howard, the museum said it gains the leadership and business infrastructure needed to further inspire donor giving and prepare for construction.
Howard has more than 20 years of knowledge in economic development, marketing and banking. He played a pivotal role in supporting small
businesses with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as the former senior vice president of small business and entrepreneur support.
A fifth-generation Fort Worth native, Howard said, “this project is personal.”
Juneteenth and the museum’s impact
A federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Its name comes from the combination of June and nineteenth, and the holiday is celebrated on the anniversary of General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas.
The day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law after the efforts of Fort Worth’s Opal Lee, known as the “the grandmother of Juneteenth,” the late Lula Briggs Galloway, and others.
Museum site will also house a business incubator, a food hall, and more
More than a museum, the site will include a 50,000-square-foot building that houses the museum, a business incubator, food hall for local chefs and restaurateurs, 250-seat theater, and a black box flexible event space.
As an economic driver for tourism and commerce for Fort Worth and Tarrant County, supporters said the campus will house operations that will help revitalize Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood’s infrastructure and create a space for new business, housing, and a creative learning environment.
Findings from the ‘Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the National Juneteenth Museum’ report prepared by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, conclude the museum project will boost population growth and serve as a catalyst for increased economic activity in the community, while also honoring the neighborhood’s history and cultural roots.
The economic impact report shows non-local visitors spending money at local businesses and establishments including restaurants, retailers, hotels and entertainment venues totaling $11.7 million in direct visitor spending, generating more than 200 part-time and full-time jobs.
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