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Our Tyler Texas calendar lists selected festivals, conventions, conferences, shows, expos, fairs, art shows, parades, and other large events. The calendar focuses on long-standing events and those with widespread appeal and interest across Tyler and East Texas. Also, be sure to check out East Texas annual festivals and fairs.


Like many Texas cities, Tyler has a dark past of slavery and lynchings. From toat least ninety-two African Americans were lynched in Tyler.

Texas african american history museum

InDan Davis was lynched by a mob of thousands after confessing to the assault of the daughter of a local farmer, though his guilt was never corroborated. Davis was burned alive at the public square without trial. Historical preservation of these incidents is not only important, but necessary, and often the action of record-keeping itself can be a form of redress for a community. Washington felt compelled by a desire to not only preserve African American history but to provide a place for outreach, where African American history would be celebrated more often than just February each year.

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Shackleford agreed, acknowledging that he had not ly seen any cultural memorabilia to remind him of his ancestors, and was inspired to do so. As a branch of the Empowerment Community Development Corporation, a Tyler-based non-profit devoted to education, preservation, and supporting minority-owned small businesses of which both were board members, the museum began operation. In the context of the heightened racial tensions surrounding the United States Presidential election ofand the events that followed during the ensuing Trump administration, the Texas African American Museum began work on developing and collecting exhibits with Washington serving as curator and executive director.

The parent group of the Texas African American Museum, the Empowerment Community Development Corporation was not much older when it helped establish the new venture.

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Founded inthe Empowerment Community Development Corporation quickly began to work at benefitting the community with local Tyler pastor Steven Cofer as President. As part of his professed mission, Cofer spent much of his time as a decades-long Tyler resident working on various improvement projects and community outreach events, often taking on leadership roles.

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As President of the Empowerment Community Development Corporation, Cofer has played a large role in the continued development of Tyler, and looked to the museum as a continuation of that. In the beginning, it was mostly a virtual endeavor, with African American histories and news events posted to a Facebook and web. Surrounded by antiques and other goods, the small one-room display housed hundreds of donated photographs, African art displays, and artifacts from local Tyler history that included a poll tax receipt from Smith County.

The display operated on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from eleven-thirty in the morning until five-thirty at night, with free admission. Despite the small space, Washington, Cofer, and Shackleford turned the African American Museum into a large presence in the community.

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Local news stories in the Tyler Morning Telegraph helped bring attention to African American Tyler residents interested in preserving their local stories and family histories. Washington took advantage of the larger space by implementing outreach opportunities that included school tours, hosting events, and gathering more local exhibits for display.

With a larger and more permanent shelter, the museum began to flourish in the community. Shirley McKellar, the councilmember representing District 3, the northwestern district for the city of Tyler.

Cofer, Washington, and many others immediately remarked that there were big plans in store for the Museum. Tyler Mayor Don Warren commented on his hopes for the future of the museum and its potential.

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During the lockdowns of the and Coronavirus pandemic, the museum continued fundraising efforts and renovations to the new location, eventually opening to the public in February offor black history month, with exhibits that included works photographs of President Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation, and works by Barack and Michelle Obama, the former United States President and First Lady, and first of African-American heritage.

Already serving as a bastion for local, state, and national African American history, those involved with the project had visions of incorporating international perspectives as well.

From humble beginnings and a virtual presence to a larger role in the Tyler community and a permanent home, the Texas African American Museum and the individuals who established it and maintain it are still working to preserve important historical stories for future generations. Need Help? Text Like many Texas cities, Tyler has a dark past of slavery and lynchings.

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The new location, former Fire House 4, is the third and current physical location of the Texas African American History Museum since it was established in The building was donated to the Empowerment Community Development by the City of Tyler in November of for the purpose of housing the museum. For years, Cofer has been a prominent and influential leader in the Tyler community. In addition to serving as a pastor, working as an insurance agent, and acting as a Republican Party Precinct Chair, he is also President of the Empowerment Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization based in Tyler, Texas that conducts activities in the area to promote education, health, development, and more.

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After starting as an online venture inthe museum quickly moved into physical location and collected local historical sources and African artworks. Inthe museum moved into a new, larger location, on N Border Avenue, and remained there until November Shackleford was inspired to found the museum so as to discover cultural artworks and artifacts to connect with his African heritage. Washington has served as curator since During the summer ofa series of Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation following the death of George Floyd. In honor of this, on Juneteenth, the commemoration of the emancipation of slaves in Texas ina series of demonstrations were held in Tyler, Texas.

Washington excitedly utilized the new square footage to increase the collections and exhibits. A proponent of historical education and preservation, Washington began offering school tours as a means of encouraging appreciation for black history beyond black history month. SinceWashington has organized and hosted many events in the community and the museum has grown greatly as a result.

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As part of her desire to continue to participate in community outreach, Gloria Washington encouraged attendees to continue to be supportive and role models for young girls. Jennifer Jackson, Dr. Angela Smith, Dr. Cheryl Garmon, Dr. Arthur Dooley Wilson was a local from Tyler, Texas who became an actor, notably playing the role of Sam in the film Casablanca.

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