East Texas African American Oral Histories – Stephen F. Austin University, Nacgodoches, Texas

During the summer of 2010 the African American Heritage Project of Nacogdoches (AAHP) graciously and excitingly agreed to work with the Center for Regional Heritage Research and graduate students enrolled in an SFA Public History graduate seminar on oral history taught by Dr. Paul J. P. Sandul by providing interviewees. The same occured in Lufkin during the summer of 2012 thanks to the help of community leader Reverend Bettie Kennedy.

Despite impressive efforts by AAHP and other local throughout East Texas before, not to mention other local history organizations like the East Texas Research Center, much more was, and is still, needed regarding African American history in East Texas. All groups have expressed and continue to express lament over the current dearth of information. Unsurprisingly, then, gropus such as AAHP and leaders in Lufkin like Rev. Kennedy have actively supported the collection of oral histories and are collaborative partners.

This project complements efforts by the AAHP and other organizations to gather new information and materials, as well as to identify and preserve resources important to African American organizations and residents in East Texas. Because African Americans, their resources, and their history have been, and is, largely underrepresented in Deep East Texas, class oral history projects help, if only in a small way, to correct that. Moreover, these oral histories represents a unique opportunity for oral testimony to play a role in fostering a broader community identity for the East Texas African American community in general, African American organizations specifically, and for all East Texas residents regardless of race. Oral history, as many historians have claimed, can thus be a device of cohesion in East Texas.

Learn more by visiting the SFA web site at www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter/422.asp