Central Celebrates Texas History Month, Highlights Civil Rights

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Samantha Vasquez/San Jacinto Times

San Jac students listen attentively as Dr. Bernadette Pruitt lectures about “Why Study the Great Migration to Houston?”

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Texas History month has arrived at San Jacinto College Central Campus and now in its second year, is commemorating Texas civil rights struggles as its primary focus.

History professor and coordinator of Texas History Month at Central campus, Marcus S. Turner is the faculty sponsor of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society. The Society, as noted on their web page, “works through college and university history departments to encourage students to discover, research, write, and publish the history of Texas as they find it where they live.”

According to Turner, at Central campus, the month’s tributes consist of four weekly presentations “all dealing with some aspect of minority groups in Texas and their struggle for equality.”

He said, instead of lecturing about stories that are well known, the Webb Society wants to address history with which students may be less familiar.

Furthermore, Turner added, he believes the commemorative events give students the opportunity to learn more about Texas’ past.

“We live in a remarkable state with a rich history,” he said, “We think it is important to share the state’s history with the students at San Jacinto College Central.”

Meanwhile, Sam Houston State University Associate Professor of History and author of “The Other Great Migration: The Movement of Rural African Americans to Houston, Texas, 1900-1941,” Dr. Bernadette Pruitt, was the featured speaker at one of the presentations, titled after her book, on April 16.

Pruitt said she looked forward to bringing “an energy and excitement about the Black Houston historical experience” to the students of San Jac.

Additionally, she said she wanted students to recognize African Texans that helped toward the development and emergence of the state of Texas including associations that helped African American people during the time of racial discrimination. Pruitt noted, these are “…institutions that often shielded Blacks emotionally and spiritually from the psychological damage of Jim Crow segregation, and helped set the stage for the modern Civil Rights Movement.”

Furthermore, she said she hopes the statewide celebration will encourage students’ interest in Texas history, adding, the event affords her the chance “to resituate the accomplishments of African-descent Americans living in Texas.”

Moreover, Pruitt credits her upbringing for leading her in the direction of becoming a historian and professor.

“At any rate, my personal, familial experiences, more than anything else, have motivated me to teach, write, remember, and transcend history in an attempt to bridge the gap between the past and present,” she added, “particularly for our young people, the nation, and world’s next generation of leaders.”

Though this year’s Texas History Month celebration is winding down, Turner said Walter P. Webb Historical Society members are already busy working on an idea for 2016’s commemorative focus. “We are considering oil in Texas as next year’s theme.”