Gregg County museum highlights local history during Black Histor - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Gregg County museum highlights local history during Black History Month


February is Black History Month, and the Gregg County Historical Museum in Longview is taking a look at East Texas's local black history.

There are signs and newspaper articles, some from not that long ago, that show what a struggle the Civil Rights movement was right here in East Texas.

"We have a sign on the wall here that shows that at some point in our courthouse, there was a different water fountain for black people and for white people," said Carlton Mitchell, chair of Gregg County's Black History Month Committee.

There are signs of hard times -- a colored-only water fountain sign that once hung in the Gregg County courthouse, newspaper articles that depict riots. But that's not all the local history you'll see in this exhibit.

"There are also stories on the walls here that depict people who were doing positive things. The first black policeman here in Longview. A lieutenant colonel who lives here in the Longview area and who served his country faithfully," Mitchell said.

Neina Kennedy, the executive director of the Gregg County Historical Museum, hopes the children who come through the exhibit this month will learn from the local history they see.

"It is uncomfortable, but it's important to realize that these people are still alive today and they experienced that. And I hope that it opens a dialogue between a 7th grader and his or her grandfather or grandmother. What was it like in the '50s and '60s growing up?" she asked.

And to Mitchell, this local history, both good and bad, is a sign of growth.

"What we hope people leave with is a sense of 'we have made progress.' That's why there's a timeline here. But we want people to leave with a sense of 'if we've made this much progress in the last 50 to 60 years, where will we be 50 to 60 years from now?' " he asked.

The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Gregg County Historical Museum in Longview, and it's free for the month of February.

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