TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Saturday, East Texans acknowledged their past in downtown Tyler.
“Today commemorates 400 years of slavery for African Americans,” said Gloria Washington, the executive director of the Texas African American Museum (TAAM).
TAAM recognized the occasion with a parade and event hosting vendors from all over.
“That’s the importance of today,” said Washington. “To bring back the past into the future so we won’t go back to the past.”
Those in attendance said they learned about others, but also about themselves.
“Just coming from nature, knowing who we are,” said Naomi Smith, an author at the event. “Coming from our past, the present and our future heritage, just opened up a lot of different insights on me to start studying my heritage.”
One attendee said the event was both inspiring and uplifting.
“We’ve been down so long, we’ve been cultural identity that we’re on the bottom,” said Ira Jones, a pastor from Van Zandt County. “If you hear that long enough, you’ll start believing it. So when you start hearing you’re not on the bottom, you’re the head, not the tail, you’re above and not beneath; we just need to get that in our head.”
Smith said she’s proud to be making history of her own.
“We’re ancestors in our own right, our story hasn’t been told yet,” said Smith. “We’re ancestors for the next generation, that’s what stuck out most to me. We’re all living ancestors in the present because someone is going to tell our story later."