LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The Gregg County Historical Museum is celebrating Black History Month with a special photo display.
Portraits of our Past: Influential African Americans of East Texas features men and women who held various roles in the Longview community, including teachers, principals, doctors and sports figures from the 1800s to today.
“We did research through the library and through some local people, and we tried to find some interesting stories of African Americans who helped shape Longview’s history,” said Lindsay Loy, executive director of the Gregg County Historical Museum. “We researched them, and put them on boards to tell their story, and then we put different pieces of artifacts from the museum to help enhance the exhibit."
Some unique stories were uncovered during that research, including the story of one of Longview’s founding dentists in the black community.
“I didn’t know about Dr. Harper. He was also a World War II veteran. I think he was 98 when he died. He had a long, distinguished career in Longview," Loy said. “One of my favorites, Charlie Neal, one of the first African American baseball players who played with Jackie Robinson.”
Neal was born in Longview on Jan. 30, 1931 and played professional baseball from 1956 to 1963, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. His daughter lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Loy said she brought all of his memorabilia over to the museum.
Portraits of our Past: Influential African Americans of East Texas also features younger generations like former Longview Lobo and Washington Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams.
“He’s done so much to give back to Longview since his career started,” Loy said.
Loy encourages everyone to take time to come see the exhibit and learn something from it.
“Come down, read the panels, learn about some of your neighbors, friends, maybe some relatives that you didn’t know about and learn about all of the significant contributions that each of these men and women made to Longview and East Texas,” she said.
Portraits of our Past: Influential African Americans of East Texas will run through March 28. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and $1 for children.
Click here for more information about the Gregg County Historical Museum and other exhibits on display.