Out of dark history into a bright future - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Out of dark history into a bright future

Reported by Layron Livingston llivingston@kltv.com

For many, the election of President-elect Barack Obama was a milestone.

KLTV spoke with a very special group of people who remember, first-hand, the darker times in East Texas' own history those who are now proud to say the light is beginning to shine.

After midday bible study, it's lunchtime inside St. Louis Baptist Church, where faith and future go hand-in-hand.

"Thank the Lord! I lived to see it," said seventy-seven year-old Johnnie Seastrunk of Tyler.

Seastrunk was born and raised in Tyler.

"During those days, i thought i would never see black people in important positions," said Seastrunk.

She graduated from, then, all-black Emmett Scott High School. She remembers one day in particular she was about to get on the city bus.

"The lady in front of me was black, and she started to step up onto the bus, and of course there was a white guy in the line," Seastruck explained. "He kicked her because he thought she was trying to get in the front of the line ahead of him. That day, I prayed to the Lord and asked the Lord, 'Lord, will there ever come a time when white people will actually accept us as people?'"

"[There's] still a lot of prejudice out there," noted seventy-one year-old Johnnie Mae Henderson who now lives in Tyler.

Henderson said she had to learn that at young age. She was forced to eat from the kitchen of an Athens restaurant.

"I wondered why did all this happen, and my daddy told me, it's prejudice against us," said Henderson. 

"Back when I was growing up, there was always a sign, 'colored' and 'white'," said seventy-nine year-old Eva Johnson of Tyler.

East Texas schools have since been integrated, Tyler buses, desegregated, and once thought to be racial barriers, eliminated.

"We thought it couldn't happen. By being together, it happened," said Henderson.

"We have selected someone who loves this country," said Seastrunk. 

"I cried. I was so elated that I cried," said Johnson. 

Still living to witness history, but they say there's still much work to be done.

"We have made many steps, and I think we have many more to make," said Seastrunk. "We have selected someone who loves this country."

"I think he's going to do a wonderful job," said Eva.

  • NewsMore>>

  • More frozen custard, juicy burgers coming to Tyler Monday

    More frozen custard, juicy burgers coming to Tyler Monday

    Sunday, July 22 2018 9:36 PM EDT2018-07-23 01:36:39 GMT
    (Source: Freddy's Frozen Custard on Facebook)(Source: Freddy's Frozen Custard on Facebook)

    In this hot, humid weather, there just can't be enough ways to cool off, and frozen custard is one of our favorite ways to do so. 

    More >>

    In this hot, humid weather, there just can't be enough ways to cool off, and frozen custard is one of our favorite ways to do so. 

    More >>
  • Separated sisters were reunited in Longview after more than 50 years

    Separated sisters were reunited in Longview after more than 50 years

    Sunday, July 22 2018 7:00 PM EDT2018-07-22 23:00:48 GMT
    An unforgettable East Texas reunion as two sisters see each other again after more than 50 years apart. Charlie Mae Johnson and Dorothy Mae Davis have not seen each other in 55 years until their family reunion at Longview's Stamper park over the weekend. "We've been separated a long time. I know we were supposed to be having a reunion but I didn't know we were going to have my sister and her family here," Charlie Mae says. Through family circumstances, they were separated...More >>
    An unforgettable East Texas reunion as two sisters see each other again after more than 50 years apart. Charlie Mae Johnson and Dorothy Mae Davis have not seen each other in 55 years until their family reunion at Longview's Stamper park over the weekend. "We've been separated a long time. I know we were supposed to be having a reunion but I didn't know we were going to have my sister and her family here," Charlie Mae says. Through family circumstances, they were separated...More >>
  • Texas African American Museum striving to preserve history

    Texas African American Museum striving to preserve history

    Saturday, July 21 2018 5:25 PM EDT2018-07-21 21:25:02 GMT
    Often times, African American history is only recognized during the month of February.  Founders of the Texas African American Museum felt their history slowly slipping away, now they are hoping to change that with the opening of the museum. "Some of the things I've seen in this little museum, I've not seen in history books, I've not seen online," visitor Cramoeya Cooper said. Though it may be small, the Texas African American Museum packs an exurbanite amount of inf...More >>
    Often times, African American history is only recognized during the month of February.  Founders of the Texas African American Museum felt their history slowly slipping away, now they are hoping to change that with the opening of the museum. "Some of the things I've seen in this little museum, I've not seen in history books, I've not seen online," visitor Cramoeya Cooper said. Though it may be small, the Texas African American Museum packs an exurbanite amount of inf...More >>
Powered by Frankly