Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their role in U.S. history.
Carter G. Woodson was a scholar whose dedication to celebrating the historic contributions of Black people led to the establishment of Black History Month. It was officially recognized at the federal level in 1976, when President Gerald Ford called on the American public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." Since then, every American President has designated February as Black History Month.
In honor of Black History Month, the City of Texas City is spotlighting and celebrating some of the achievements and accomplishments of local individuals who have helped shape our community:
- Blues great Charles Brown -- best known for hits like "Merry Christmas Baby" and "Driftin' Blues" was born in Texas City. One of his biggest hits, "Trouble Blues," stayed at number one on the Billboard R&B chart for 15 weeks, and his Christmas album, "Please Come Home for Christmas," has sold more than a million copies. He was nominated for a Grammy Award three times and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Hannibal Lokumbe, also known as Hannibal Marvin Peterson, is an accomplished American jazz trumpeter and composer who was raised in Texas City, Texas, and graduated from Texas City High School in the 1960s. Lokumbe is known for robust and distinctive trumpet playing, characterized by a bold and expressive style. He toured with renowned jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and collaborated with musical greats of such as Gil Evan, and Art Blakey and many others. He has composed over 140 musical works, including "Dear Rosa Parks," was written to pay homage to the civil rights leader Rosa Parks. Lokumbe has received numerous awards and was inducted into the Harlem Jazz Hall of Fame.
- Texas City has been the hometown of many professional athletes, including D’onta Foreman, who had one of the most successful collegiate careers ever. Not only was he a candidate for the Heisman, but as a Texas star, he received the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation’s best running back. He currently plays for the Chicago Bears.
- Joe “Jumpin’ Joe” Caldwell played six seasons in the NBA. He was also a member of the United States men’s Olympic basketball team in 1954 and won a gold medal. He was one of small handful of players to make All-Star in the both the NBA and ABA leagues, and was inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Fame and the Arizona State Hall of Fame.
- Harold Cash was born in Texas City and was raised with a deep appreciation of horses and horseback riding. He immersed himself in the sport, and his dedication paid off with championship wins at the All-American Rodeo of the Southwest in 1979 and 1981. He won a place in the Old Timers Rodeo Cowboy Association and was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame by the Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, a testament to his rodeo achievements, and cementing his place in the history books as a trailblazer in the sport.
- Pastor D. N. Benford of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church is the longest-serving pastor of a single church in all of America. He has served as pastor of the church for more than 70 years and will be in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Rear Admiral Osie V. Combs, Jr. USN (Retired) grew up in Texas City and graduated from Texas City High School. He is the first African American person to ever achieve the rank of Rear Admiral. He served as the Project Manager during construction of the submarines USS Houston and USS Dallas, both of which appeared in the movie, "The Hunt for Red October" and built the Navy’s first unmanned submarine. He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation with two bronze stars, the Navy "E" Ribbon with second Battle "E", the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, the Sea Service Ribbon, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
- Texas City Mayor Dedrick D. Johnson made history in November of 2020, when he became the city's first African American mayor. He was also the city's first African American mayoral candidate and was the youngest person ever elected to office when he served as Commissioner of District 3.
- Mayor Pro-Tem Thelma Bowie is the first African American Mayor Pro-Tem and the first African American Commissioner At-Large. She is also the first female Mayor Pro-Tem in the history of Texas City government.
- In 1978, Lynn Ray Ellison (District 3) and the late Thomas F. Carter (District 1) became the first African American City Commissioners in Texas City when they successfully championed the cause of single member districts in the city. Dr. Ellison was also the longest consecutive serving commissioner and was in office for 22 years.
- Rhomari Leigh is the first African American City Secretary for the City of Texas City.
- Titilayo Smith is the City's first African American female director.
- Lincoln Hypolite is the first African American principal of Texas City High School. He is alumni of La Marque High School and was a state long jump champion in the early 90’s.
- Shone Evans is the first African American head football coach of Texas City High School.
- Madison Swain, a Texas City native and graduate of Texas City High School, won the title of Miss Juneteenth Texas USA. She went on to represent the state of Texas at the national 2023 Miss Juneteenth USA pageant in Philadelphia.
To learn more, visit the city's African American Cultural Park, a 12,000-square-foot brick memorial to the African American community in Texas City, located at the corner of Fourth Street and Third Avenue, just east of Loop 197.
You can also hear stories from members of the African American community who lived in the area between 1940-1970, which have been collected as part of The African American Experience: A Texas City Oral History Exhibit. The oral history interviews and transcripts are available online at: The Oral History Archive at Moore Memorial Public Library (texascitylibrary-oralhistory.org)