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Public service focus of black history exhibit at Gregg County museum

By Richard Yeakley
Feb. 1, 2013 at 11 p.m.


It was standing room only Friday night inside the Gregg County Historical Museum for the debut of the "Black History: African Americans in Public Service" exhibit, which honors black East Texans who played a significant role in defining the region.

"Most people are probably not as aware of black Longview history as they should be. That rich heritage, going from slave to freedmen and then early leaders who now have helped lead the community should be remembered," said Executive Director Bill Hansen.

Hansen and Alyce Maxey led the reception, which took place in front of the exhibit.

The reception included readings, speeches and traditional music as the crowd filled the lower exhibit room of the museum to capacity.

Longview Councilwoman Kasha Williams spoke about the importance of black history.

"We can't learn to love one another as we should or as the word of God commands us to if we don't take the time to understand one another," Williams said.

The exhibit displayed the photographs and biographies of black East Texans in public service.

Odessa Burton, whose son and husband appear in the exhibit, said she was delighted her family members were honored by the museum.

"It is a real, real nice thing. I wouldn't have missed it for anything," Burton said.

Each year, the museum focuses on a different theme. In 2012, the theme was "Black History: Then and Now."

Black history month has been held since 1976 in February and is a time set apart by the federal government to remember the impact of black leaders on American history.

The exhibit will remain open to the public through February.

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