East Texas Black History

Times have changed drastically in East Texas since the first half of the 20th century. Especially for African Americans.

Eighty-two year old Lufkin resident Albert Jasper said, "I would hear situations that would happen to black men in some of the areas near here. Things like lynchings and people being burned out."

Huntington resident Billie Billeck told us, "When I grew up, the black people would sit in the back of the bus and they had black water fountains."

Before integration, all the white students went to the old Lufkin High School while all the black students went to the old Dunbar High School. African Americans were also limited to certain types of jobs.

"If you were fortunate enough to get an education and become a teacher then you could get a job teaching, but it was basically in the black school. But the other type of work was mostly pretty good labor," Jasper recalled.

African Americans were mainly restricted to certain neighborhoods. There were a few integrated neighborhoods, but even in those, African Americans had to follow strict rules.

"We had black families in our community and the kids played together. But they always came to the back porch," Billeck said.

East Texans we talked to who grew up in the Jim Crow era say times have definitely changed for the better. Jasper points to US presidental candidate Barack Obama as a sign of how far African Americans have come since he was a child.

'In my lifetime, this is something I never expected to live long enough to see; a black person ever doing anything in the White House but maybe cut the grass," Jasper told us.

He believes whether Obama wins or loses, his campaign still marks an exciting chapter in our nation's history for all Americans.