Dear readers,

Just six months ago our city had embarked on a joyous celebration of our sesquicentennial.

Now, the days seem heavy, and this summer has been filled with the tension of this time: A pandemic that is hitting our country and state hard; concerns about school starting; a struggling economy; and our country’s ongoing reckoning with our history of racial inequality.

In light of the city’s 150th anniversary, Charm and View magazines have been celebrating important pieces of our past this year, with features on people and institutions that helped shape this city. As we prepared for this edition of View, we thought it was important to recognize another significant part of our city’s past and present — the four historical church congregations that developed in the years following the Civil War to serve the Black community: St. Mark Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Red Oak Missionary Baptist Church and Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. They started as congregations for newly freed slaves and became places that, as The Rev. J.H. Creal Sr. of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist said, provide “voice for a community that has been both voiceless and powerless.”

These churches’ histories were inspirational to me in the ways they have provided hope and encouragement to their congregations and the larger community and in the ways they have toiled to make us all better people since the early days of Longview’s history.

This month’s Charm cover will tell you about a woman whose life also is dedicated to spreading hope and encouragement to families with children facing a serious or life-threatening illness. Miki Dougherty is the daughter of country music star Neal McCoy. She was 8 when he established the East Texas Angel Network, which helps meet the basic needs of those families struggling with the expenses of caring for a seriously ill child. She took over as executive director of the organization from her grandmother, Patsy Williams, seven years ago. The East Texas Angel Network’s annual fundraising weekend is in September, and the organization, like other nonprofits, is adjusting to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

You’ll find a lot more great reading in this edition of Charm and View: the next installment of local author Kimberly Fish’s alternative, fictional presentation of Longview’s history; Aprill Brandon’s sweet — and hilarious — reflections on her daughter’s fourth birthday; an introduction to the chef behind local eatery Ramen Saikou; and much more.

As always, I hope you love this edition of Charm and View magazines as much as I do. Stay well and safe, my friends.