Black History Month
When I was young, I never fully understood why Black history was so important to learn or know.
My school highlighted people such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, or Fredrick Douglas. My church put on plays, and they would dress as famous people and you would have to guess who it was. I paid attention and then sometimes I did not. Then one day my humanities teacher, Mr. Enns, told me of some contributions that African Americans made that were never talked about. I never knew. It was as if the whole world exploded.
I remember going to the Kemp Public Library and looking up his suggestions in the card catalog (before Google, and I just told my age). I read about Claudette Colvin the first to give up her seat before Rosa Parks, Garrett Morgan’s many inventions (one being the three-tiered traffic light), or the Exodusters. There was a wealth of information that I never knew of. Reading some stories were inspiring and some were truly heartbreaking. I take with pride knowing that there is a lot of history that is still being uncovered. There is some history in our little, big town that highlights their contributions.
A few years ago, I was antique shopping and came upon a stack of Wichita Falls black history. It was filled with plaques, awards, and pictures. I bought the whole lot. I started reaching out to the community to find their owner and discovered a lot of history about Wichita I had never heard of. I then partnered with Brenda Garret, Jessica Johnson, Penny Rhodes, the Honorable Arthur Bea Williams, and the North Texas History Museum to put on an exhibit of local Black History. It was so beautiful to see memorabilia of the history here in Wichita Falls. There were beautiful quilts, photography, film footage, and artifacts. I loved watching the people reminiscence and while others listened.
What I took away from this experience was that Black history is for everyone. History is what brings us together. We learn how to overcome and we learn how to grow. There are still many stories, that inspire us to be better than before.