Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Black History in East Texas

That is what many in Texas set out to do in those early days. By portraying Africans as ignorant, lazy and shiftless influenced the minds of white citizens to view the Africans as being inferior. By planting the theme that black in bad and white is good has damaged a culture that, to this day, has had difficulty overcoming.

The damage that has been done over the past 300 years and the perceptions and practices that have proliferated over the years almost seems insurmountable. In the light of segregation, those who had the power to tell the story of America have followed the standard line, white is good, black is not. In spite of the portrait of history painted by Americans historians, the stories of its African citizens are rich with achievement and accomplishment even in the face of all the obstacles placed in their paths.

Education has been the cornerstone of the rise of the African slave. As ignorant and incapable as some whites wanted them to be perceived, the slaves were just as cunning. Doing what had to be done to survive, what appeared to whites as ignorance and laziness was, at that time, a silent protest of slavery. Many slaves plotted on how to escape their lot in America. There were always secret efforts to educate slaves and though many whites suppressed education after the fall of the Confederacy those efforts, thankfully, succeeded. Black citizens, with the help of the church and sympathetic whites, successfully created their own systems of education.

As Black citizens have gained access to education, their accomplishments and contributions to the building of America was systematically suppressed. Until the early 1900’s when Carter G. Woodson worked to establish the recording of the history of African Americans, our successes were not widely know. Through his efforts, a movement was born to capture the history of this segment of America and to raise it to the level of awareness equal to that of the countries founding fathers. Those efforts are ongoing and still an up hill battle.

East Texas was a hot bed of historical pursuits of African American and Native American Citizens. The challenge to African American history does not lie in the inadequacies of academia, but in the interest of its own citizens. If we, African Americans, do not have an interest in our heritage and history, how can we expect anyone else to do so?

Through the establishment of the East Texas Black Heritage and History Association, we hope to bring together those in the region who have a serious interest and connection to there past and to inspire others to get connected. We hope that we can accomplish this with the help of the East Texas Academic community which is the foundation of the development and education of all citizens.