Celebrating Black History Month

The East Texas Food Bank celebrates Black History Month by recognizing East Texans and their contributions to our rich heritage. Each week during February, we will spotlight these historic figures.

Zion Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas

Zion Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas was home to one of the oldest African American congregations in Texas.


James Farmer, Jr.

James Farmer Jr. was born in Marshall, TX in 1920. He became a leader in the civil rights movement to dismantle segregation and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin was born in 1868 and grew up in Texarkana. He wrote 40 ragtime pieces and in 1899 published “Maple Leaf Rag” which brought him instant fame. Many years after his death his music was rediscovered and an album sold millions of copies in the 1970s, plus his composition, “The Entertainer” won an Oscar for best original song score and he received the Pulitzer Prize for music.

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. In 1921, she became the first black woman to obtain her pilot license.
During her air show tours, she fought against segregation and encouraged other black Americans to follow her path and become pilots. Bessie died in 1926 in a plane crash at the age of 34.

Arthur “Dooley” Wilson

Arthur “Dooley” Wilson was born in Tyler in 1886. He became a successful actor in plays in Chicago and New York with his breakthrough role in 1940 in the Broadway musical “Cabin in the Sky.” He appeared in 19 movies including his famous role as “Sam” in the 1942 Oscar Best Movie “Casablanca.”