On my soapbox: Local black history

This column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jason Hennington. This is NOT the opinion of the Taylor Press.

It’s Black History Month, and schools will have curriculum about historic African American figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson and others. Locally, there will most likely be something around Bill Pickett and Dr. James Lee Dickey.

That’s great, but what about other local African American figures? There are many who may not ever show up in a history book or in a lesson plan but had a large impact on the Taylor community.

I can think of several, Nettie Robinson, Lessie Givens, Delores Hennington, Mrs. Martin, Mama Harris, just to name a few. Of course, these are all teachers who had an impact on students, but there are others who are significant to black history in Taylor. Don and Leslie Hill, the Blackshear O.L. Price Ex-Students Association and the Welfare Workers Club are all part of Taylor’s history, and what they have done should be documented and celebrated with current and future generations. If you get a chance, go check out https://www.taylorsoutheastside.com/. It has some great local history.

The history of the Line – an area that had businesses, culture and thrived in south Taylor – is not recorded thoroughly anywhere. But, it should be. I’m willing to help with that, but people have to be willing to come forward with their history and share it.

In 30 years, there will be a new wave of people who could be considered black history in Taylor. Coach Gerald Jones, Shorty Mitchell, Gerald Anderson, the entire Braided Faded Crew, Quincy Griffin, Jackie Jones, Fred Kerley, Mark Jackson and many others (sorry if I didn’t mention you, I only have so many words). They will all be a bit older, but they will be able to talk about how they helped advance Taylor.

Everyone I just named was impacted by someone I mentioned previously. That’s how history is made. Collecting the stories and experiences is how history is documented. Sharing it – wrong word – teaching it to future generations is how history is preserved.

Don’t get me wrong, I love knowing I’m from the same place as arguably the greatest cowboy of all time. I played Dr. Dickey in black history programs growing up, so I have nothing but respect for his accomplishments. As a basketball fan, knowing KC Jones is from my hometown is inspiring.

But what about the other people who helped shape the community I grew up in or we live in now?

If we don’t start preserving our black history now, our black history will become history.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now and go have a Super Bowl party with Jasmine and Tiana. It will just be us at home, but I know they are just coming for the snacks.

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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