City of Tyler honors Rosa Parks through bus tour - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

City of Tyler honors Rosa Parks through bus tour

The intersection of Palace and Vance is home to The Cut, an old center of African American commerce. (Source: KLTV staff) The intersection of Palace and Vance is home to The Cut, an old center of African American commerce. (Source: KLTV staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

December 1 is the 61st anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The event helped launch the civil rights movement of the 60's, and the city of Tyler celebrated her legacy by hosting a bus tour through historic sites in north Tyler.

"Rosa Parks actually stood up for human dignity and human rights," event organizer David Houston said.

The tour went through "The Cut" where Palace Avenue intersects Vance Street. The area was once a center of commerce for African American businesses during segregation.

"We gathered young and old," Houston said. "You could stand around that circle ... have conversation, shoot the breeze."

He says there were two Tylers back then: one black, one white. He recalls The Cut fondly, because establishments were African American owned.

"These were our theaters, these were our business places," he said. "We didn't have to go upstairs, through a separate door, take a seat somewhere in the back ... because it belonged to us."

But he says when the city was desegregated, the dollars went elsewhere. Businesses on The Cut lost money, then eventually shut their doors permanently. The intersection is almost vacant now. The lot where the theater used to be is empty. The tour also stopped by Texas College, Tyler's oldest establishment of higher education, and visited the First Bethlehem Baptist Church, where the city's first African American library was created in 1941 for residents.

Houston and other tour organizers say they are encouraged by progress that's been made since desegregation in 1970. He added that by recognizing history, communities are better able to move forward in understanding.

"If we're going to make progress, not only in this city, but in this country," he said, "we're going to have to first admit what has taken place."

He says that by talking about historic segregation, and looking at history unfiltered, there is a better foundation to move forward in mutual understanding.

"Yes these things happened," he said. "but they don't have to remain the same if you have men and women of good will, working together for the betterment of all."

The tour took about 60 people around the circuit between three shifts. Houston says he wishes more could've taken the ride.

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