During the month of February we like to recognize notable *men and women in black history -- but we're switching things up. We're not shining the spotlight on any one in particular, but an east Texas college that has served and produced many young black leaders on both local and national platforms.
Texas college is one of the oldest institutions in heart of east Texas' city of tyler.this historic black college was founded in 18-94 in a 4 room house - but it stands tall today with more than 950 students and 300 dorm rooms in the very place it opened its doors to young black students 120 ago.
If you ask those who know "her" they'll tell you without hesitation, she's not your ordinary institution.
Orenthia Mason "Texas college has always taken those who didn't have much and made them great young men & women."
Take it from reverend orenthia mason- she would know.
She's not only worked on the campus for 8 years - but she grew up one block from Texas college, and as she puts it -- was "raised running through the campus."
o.m. - "my mother graduated from here, my father graduated from here."
so as history would have it, so did she in 1973.
but -- to fully understand and appreciate what Texas college is all about - we've got to go back…back 120 years.
D.f - "our history tells us that there was a four-room house, started with approximately six students but by the end of that academic year had some 36 to 40 students."
those students were members of the christian Methodist episcopal church and were recently released slaves who were considered -- "disenfranchised".
T-c's president Dr. Dwight fernell says in 1894 -- that was a sure sign.
D.f - "that there was some impact and understanding about the importance of education."
especially for young black men and women - who were deprived of an education and freedom of their own.
b.s - "brown vs. Board of education had not been acted on…"
Dr. Bobby stinson is a 1967 graduate of Texas college - who came from a poor family of eleven.
B.s - "and we have students here like that now, but we've got to tell them, you can make it if you try."
students who enroll from all over the country - making Texas college their home -- like sophomore business major Daniel Blake.
D.b - "coming from the struggle, coming from the hood, you know....it gives me life."
Blake moved to Texas where he has no family -- far away from a lifestyle he wasn't too proud of back in new jersey.
But he says his purple and gold Texas college family has helped him move past those days…and his old ways.
D.b - "feels like family, you know, everybody sticks together."
b.m - "at UNT I was just a number, here, my name is brianna."
and brianna mcneil - made the switch once she realized she wanted to be more than just another student on campus.
She holds the title of ms. Texas college - a poised young women voted on by her peers to represent and speak for the student body, much like the campus' student government president - Houston creighton.
H.c - "I thank god for the opportunity to be able to come up here and experience a completely different culture."
a culture that *defies all of the negative stereotypes associated with historically black colleges and universities.
D.f - "I think our difference is based on our mission and how we were founded."
o.m. - students don't come here because they don't have anywhere else to go, they come here because they chose Texas college."
and they refer to their alma mater as "she" -- because like many notable women in black history - she's determined, daring, definitive -- standing her ground in the exact same spot for 120 years -- she's durable.
D.f - " I think Texas college is on the move…we just look for the next 120 years right now."
o.m. - I am who I am because of Texas college and I am proud of it."
and in case you're wondering who some of the notable t-c graduates are,
take erma p. Hall for example - she's been in a number of plays, movies and television shows.
Which naturally brings us to actor Danny glover.
He received his honorary doctorate from Texas college.
Billy Aaron - the wife of the retired American professional baseball player "hammerin' hank" Aaron.
Through the support of the hank Aaron foundation she has provided many t-c students with significant amounts of grants and scholarships ... Along with a number of faculty and educators who are *still in the east Texas community today