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Honoring Black History Month - Oral History

Monday, February 01, 2021

In celebration of Black History Month 2021, The History Center will draw attention to several of its collections that help to tell the story of African Americans in Angelina and the surrounding counties.  

For the first feature, staff has chosen to highlight oral history interviews that have allowed African Americans to tell their own stories.  In these interviews, readers (and listeners - digital audio is availble for nearly all of the interviews in addition to the transcript) can learn about life in segregated sawmill towns, community pride and events, schools (segregated and integrated), the importance of religious communities, the unifiying power of sports, and changes throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  

Researchers are encouraged to spend time scrolling through the alphabetical list, reading and listening to all of the interviews that catch their interest, but staff offers some suggestions here:

In two of our most recent interviews, Rex Benham and Guessippina Bonner discuss their experiences growing up in different areas - Georgia for Mr. Benham and Fairfield, Texas for Councilwoman Bonner, getting an education, and having a career that took them to different parts of the country.  Various members of Lufkin's African American Community participated in a presentation and group interview about Lufkin's African American Schools, facilitated by Reverend Bettie Kennedy, who herself sat for several interviewsAlgianon Jeffero, Harold Cade, and Gloria Toran, among others, discuss education and being educators.  Rueben "Jellie" Samuel, James Rhone, Cora Nash, and Jim Ligon reminisce about life in Diboll throughout the 20th century, Cleveland Mark and his cousins speak about Diboll and the Freedman's Colony of Nigton in Trinity County as well as their military experiences, Margie Harrell recalls 40 years experience at the Diboll Housing Authority, Dr. Odis Rhodes discusses segregated schools in rural Nacogdoches County and in Lufkin as well as Lufkin's neighborhoods, and musician Professor Will Jackson talks about his career with W.C. Handy's band and his student Harry James.