SATURDAY AFTERNOON PRESENTED a beautiful day for a beautiful tribute to Texas City’s African-American community, as the city celebrated the first annual “Evening in the Park,” a gospel/spiritual program that displayed the impact of the churches that were built on the south side of Texas City.
The Booker T. Washington Exes were the driving force behind the celebration that was held directly behind the Sanders/Vincent Center. Commissioner Emeritus Lynn Ray Ellison served as the emcee of the services, which included gospel numbers from each of the various churches that were also honored.
Mount Paran Missionary Baptist Church, First Missionary Baptist Church, Greater Randle’s Temple Church of God in Christ, Galilee United Methodist Church, Greater Barbour’s Chapel Church and Greater Macedonia Church were the foundations of the rise of African-Americans in Texas City, but Booker T. Washington School was the funnel for education. The proud history of the school has carried well beyond its closing date, while its legacy lives on with those who attended.
“We love this little park,” said Bobbie Garrett of Mount Paran during her greetings of the event. “It’s a part of our beginning. We’re still pushing our children to push themselves to be better than the ones before them and the ones before them. We fought the fight to get here, and we’re here to stay.”
Throughout the park, photos and mementos of those who passed through Booker T. Washington and those who helped strengthened the community were present, offering viewers an opportunity to see the rich history of BTW.
Each of the churches were also represented in story and in photos of the pastors who helped build spiritual bonds that continue to be connected with each generation.
Editor’s Note: For me, attending the event proved to be an emotional trip to my past. The event was held across the street where my grandmother, Delores Williams Sneed raised her children, including my late father, Ralph E. Williams. During the event, Mr. Ellison discussed how my father and my uncles, Jay and Norris Williams, were instrumental in getting the community to vote in crucial elections in the mid-1970s that helped give the African-American residents in Texas City a bigger say in civic affairs.
Among the photos I saw were pictures of my grandmother, who passed away 27 years ago this month, and my father, who passed away on April 13, 2000. My uncles were present as well, both in photos of their youth and in later years.
Saturday afternoon reminded me that sometimes, God has us exactly where we need to be instead of where we want to be. It reminded me that as a member of the community, I hold a responsibility to help maintain what my family, Mr. Ellison and so many others fought hard for us to have.
As long as God has me here, I will do my part.