New federal holiday has roots in home state of Texas county’s first Black County Commissioner, who also fought for abolition of slavery abroad.

Washington, DC – Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert will join national leaders, artists, and community advocates at the White House’s Juneteenth Concert on Monday, June 10, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. ET on the South Lawn. This prestigious event celebrates the rich cultural heritage and enduring spirit of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The event is a “Who’s Who” of national and entertainment stars.  The event will have Gladys Knight, Patti Label, Charlie Wilson, Kirk Franklin, Anthony Hamilton, Doug E. Fresh, Raheem Devaughn, Brittney Spencer, and Patina Miller.

Commissioner Calvert was known in Washington circles for his heroic work fighting for democracy and freedom around the world and has recently earned recognition from the UD Department of Housing and Urban Development for supporting the funding of adult literacy and increasing enrollment during the pandemic.

He represents a region deeply intertwined with the slave origins of Juneteenth and was tapped last year by the White House as a result of his trailblazing work in the South. The roots of Juneteenth reach back to when Calvert’s home state of Texas finally saw the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865. This historic moment marked the final chapter of government sanctioned chattel slavery in the United States and laid the foundation for this annual celebration of freedom and resilience, now a federal holiday.

In addition, Commissioner Calvert has a distinguished background in the battle against modern-day slavery. While a student at Tufts University, he emerged as a committed abolitionist fighting against modern-day slavery. As a sophomore, he was elected to the university’s board of trustees and successfully led a campaign for the divestment of its teacher’s retirement fund, TIAA-CREF, from Talisman Energy, a company blasted for its complicity in Sudanese genocide. Calvert’s dedication to the abolitionist cause extended beyond his academic years. After graduating from Tufts, he served as the chief of external operations for the American Anti-Slavery Group, traveling to South Sudan and Myanmar to combat human trafficking.

Calvert represents the best of the civil rights movement in the South as his father is the original organizer of the largest Martin Luther King March in the United States.

Breaking Barriers and Leading Innovation

Tommy Calvert, the Dean of the Bexar County Commissioners Court, is now serving his third term after first being elected in 2014 as the first Black County Commissioner in Bexar County history. Throughout his career, Calvert has broken numerous barriers and introduced innovative solutions to pressing community issues.

In 2022, Calvert received two National Achievement Awards from The National Association of Counties (NACO). One award recognized his creation of a neighborhood trash program for the high-crime Camelot neighborhood, which resulted in a 74% decrease in illegal dumping, a 53% reduction in crime, and a 75% decrease in animal protection calls. The second award celebrated food security measures Calvert implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership secured $2 million in federal funding and provided 25,000 pounds of super greens and fruits to his constituency through the creation of the ten-acre Greenies Urban Farm. This farm, known as The Greenies, transformed an eyesore called “The Goonies” into a vibrant community collaboration with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and the San Antonio Master Gardeners. The site also includes an event center accommodating three hundred people, generating revenue for other Bexar County initiatives.

In 2024, he broke ground on two new University Hospitals that were his brainchild after nine years of advocacy. These $450 million dollar projects, located at Retama Park and Texas A&M San Antonio, are set to open in 2026 and 2027, respectively. Commissioner Calvert also championed the creation of the first long-COVID rehabilitation hospital in Bexar County, highlighting his proactive approach to healthcare innovation.

As Commissioner for downtown San Antonio, he played a pivotal role in bringing foreign investment to the Arts Residence and Thompson Hotel project, creating 1,800 jobs and building the most architecturally unique skyscraper in Bexar County. Calvert also facilitated the relocation of the Texas Research and Technology Fund & Velocity Texas to the old Merchant’s Ice House, creating a new innovation district in San Antonio.

“I am deeply honored to attend the White House Juneteenth Concert,” said Commissioner Calvert. “This event not only celebrates our collective history and progress but also reinforces the ongoing fight for equality and justice. Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of the resilience and determination of African Americans and our crucial role in shaping this nation.”