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City of Tyler Honors First African American Barber College

By Hayley Wielgus In 1933, history was made in a modest building in downtown Tyler and a legacy was established. In the midst of a deepening depression and

By Hayley Wielgus

In 1933, history was made in a modest building in downtown Tyler and a legacy was established.

In the midst of a deepening depression and in the face of Jim Crow, Henry Miller Morgan opened the nation's first African American barber college on Erwin Street.Now he's being honored on the city's Half Mile of History.

"He inspired me that I could go on and make a career out of barbering, send my kids to college, buy a home and own a barber shop," Tyler Barber College graduate Johnny Crawford said.

Crawford moved his family all the way from Tampa, Fla. to attend the school.

"They had excellent instructors and training" Crawford said. "People were looking for barbers who came out of Tyler Barber College."

Morgan expanded the barber college to several cities across the country, which gave African American men and women a chance at entrepreneurship.

"Since I wasn't able to go to a regular college, I needed something to be independent for myself," Tyler Barber College Graduate Maxine Mason said.

Mason graduated from the barber college when she was 16.Now at age 82, she's still running her own barber shop in San Antonio.

"I appreciate what's happening here today," Mason said."I never though that I would live to see a day like this, so I am very happy."

Tyler Barber College closed in the early 1970's but it graduated hundreds of barbers who have continued a legacy of black-owned businesses across the country.

Henry Miller Morgan died in 1961.In addition to being successful business owner, many people in Tyler knew him as civic and political activist.