Those Places Thursday: Pelham, Texas

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2012, as well as, “Those Places Thursday!” This blogging prompt gives me a chance to reminiscence about how and where my ancestors lived and to write about “those places” via stories and/or photos.

This past Sunday I came upon this wonderful news story on about Pelham, Texas, a small Freedman community that’s fighting hard to preserve its legacy for future generations. As far as I know, I don’t have any ancestors who lived in Pelham. But I have had ancestors who lived in similar communities like the historic Houston’s Fourth Ward, the site of Freedmen’s Town, which was a post-U.S. Civil War community of African-Americans, that no longer exist today due to gentrification.

So I’m very thankful that this community’s story is being told and I share it with you on this national day of thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Pelham, Texas
Darlene Holloway arrives for a church service in Pelham, one of the state’s dwindling number of freedmen’s communities. The residents of the town just outside Corsicana have collected artifacts and memories so the town won’t fade away.(Louis DeLuca – Staff Photographer)

Do you remember where you were on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 pm?

On Thursday, April 4, 1968, at 6:01 pm, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down while standing on the balcony outside of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Do you remember Where you were (and what you were doing) on the evening of April 4, 1968?

I was eight years old at the time,  and at 6:01 pm I was at home having dinner with my family when news of his death came to us by TV. My oldest brother was a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. He had made it back to his dorm room just in time before angry riots about Dr. King’s assassination broke out across campus.

At age 8, I knew nothing about the hardships the Memphis sanitation workers were going through that brought Dr. King to Memphis. But what I do know was how quiet and still my family was for the rest of the evening as we listened to Walter Cronkite give graphic details about how he died and how Memphis policemen were frantically looking for his killer.

As I learned more about what happened to Dr. King, I felt as though the world was on fire, as news of his death sparked riots around our nation. Then to see Mrs. King just a few days later on TV dressed in black leading thousands of people in a funeral procession through the streets of Atlanta was very emotional and heart-wrenching for a child like me to watch.

Life Magazine, 1968January 15, 2012, was Dr. King’s 83rd birthday, and today the third Monday in January, is his official federal holiday! Its been a long time since I thought about where I was the day he died until I came on April 12, 1968, LIFE MAGAZINE (featured at the top of this post) that my father purchased for 35¢ featuring Dr. King and exclusive pictures about his death in Memphis. Once I picked myself up off the floor over this 108-page issue costing 35¢ in 1968, I was visually carried back in time to one of the saddest moments in American history, as well as how this young black Baptist preacher was a true change agent for freedom and justice for us all!

After Dr. King’s death he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. But two of the best  honors of all came:

So, do you remember where you were on the evening of April 4, 1968, at 6:01 pm? If you do, share your moment in history with me!