Library preserves Waco’s African American history with permanent ‘Celebrate African American Voices’ installation

Everyone featured, past and present, has contributed to Waco’s growth of African American culture
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The East Waco Library unveiled a new window display Thursday morning, highlighting prominent African American Wacoans and their accomplishments.

From family of those being honored to the council members who made it all happen, it was a celebration of Waco’s rich African American history.

Community members gathered Thursday morning for the unveiling, many are calling a step in the right direction in teaching youth about those that paved the way for them.

Those who visit the East Waco Library on Elm Ave. can now learn about African Americans past and present who made a lasting impact on the Waco community with their new permanent display.

Currently, community leaders, Alice Pollard, Lester Gibson, Noah Jackson, Emma Harrison, Thomas Wilson, Jr., Robert Lloyd Smith and Garry Radford, Sr., are on display.

“This is the opportunity for this generation, the next generation to study and honor and build from the people who make Waco, Waco,” said District 1 City Councilmember, Andrea Barefield.

Earlier this year, a committee was formed to create the display.

This committee includes:

- Councilmember Andrea Barefield

- Dr. Peaches henry, NAACP

- Jeanette Bell, Northeast Riverside Neighborhood Association

- Rachel Pate, Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce

- Donald Wright, Central Texas African American Heritage Foundation.

Barefield had noticed the style of window display used in other Waco libraries and thought why not use the space to uplift these influential stories of triumph and firsts for Waco’s African American community to learn from.

“It’s such an honor getting to be a part of a project like this. Where we honor the legacy of outstanding men and women in our community who’ve contributed to make Waco a better and stronger place,” said Waco Mayor, Dillon Meek.

There are seven total prominent African Americans featured outside and over 30 featured on the digital display inside the library.

“As our history is living these window displays are living. They will rotate and change to honor the legacy of African Americans in this community at the East Waco Library,” said Barefield.

The committee took things like community contribution, impact on society and historical context into consideration when deciding who to include in the display.