texas history day

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Happy Lesbian Day of Visibility! (April 26th)

So! Let’s talk about Barbara Jordan…
Who was she?
Only one of the most badass queer women you will ever hear about. She was the FIRST southern black woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives. That’s right. SOUTHERN.
The gal was born in Houston Texas February 21, 1936. Raised there. And died in Austin Texas in 1996. But not before leaving behind a legacy for all queer folk, Texans, colored folk, women, and the like to aspire to. And in the 60s no less.

Was she a lesbian or a bisexual? We’ll never know for sure because she was never out publically in her lifetime, but her obituary in the Houston Chronicle mentioned her 20 - year relationship with Nancy Earl.

Whether L or B in LGBT+, today seems like as good a day as any to spread the word about this amazing Woman who loved another woman.

Stay visible ya’ll!

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Martin Luther King Jr. stands in front of a bus at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott. Montgomery, Alabama December 26, 1956. (Photo Credit: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr is arrested by two white police officers in Montgomery Alabama on September 4, 1958. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama. October 1967. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Dr. King (left) and Stokely Carmichael (right) walk together during the March Against Fear in Mississippi June, 1966. (Photo Credit: Flip Schulke/Corbis )

Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta, lead a five-day march to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery in 1965. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Martin Luther King leading march from Selma to Montgomery to protest lack of voting rights for African Americans. Beside King is John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy. March 1965. (Steve Schapiro/Corbis)

Rev. King waves to the crowd at the March on Washington, August 28,1963. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas in 1919. He was unable to finish high school, but helped around the family farm until just before his 20th birthday. He then enlisted with the Navy as a Messman, one of the few positions open to African-Americans.

On December 7th, 1941, Miller was a Messman Third Class serving on the USS West Virginia. He was a ship’s cook, with minimal combat training and no gunnery training, as the military was still segregated and African-Americans were not trained on the heavy guns.

When the bombs began dropping on Pearl Harbor, Miller ran to the deck of the ship and began assisting moving the wounded, including the captain of the ship. He then jumped on one of the anti-aircraft guns on deck and proceeded to try to shoot the Japanese planes down until ordered to abandon ship, at which point he continued to help move wounded soldiers from the ship.

Miller was hailed as the “Number One Hero” for African-Americans and considered one of the first American heroes of WWII. He was awarded the Navy Cross and after a massive community campaign, went on a war bond tour.

Miller returned to service on the Liscome Bay, where he died when the ship was lost at the battle of Makin Island.

Bonus: Admiral Nimitz, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas and CINCPAC during WWII, pinning the Navy Cross on Dorie Miller.

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February 23rd 1836: Battle of the Alamo begins

On this day in 1836, the Battle of the Alamo began between Texan and Mexican soldiers, near the modern city of San Antonio. The Alamo was a former mission founded by Spanish settlers, which, by the nineteenth century, had become a fort for Spanish troops. In the 1820s, Mexico fought a successul war for independence from Spain, which led to increased migration of American citizens into the Mexican province of Texas. As the American population in the area grew, a revolutionary movement gained traction. War eventually broke out in 1835, and early on, Texan volunteer soldiers successfully captured the Alamo garrison from Mexican troops, and with it gained control of San Antonio. While Texas’ commander-in-chief, Sam Houston, was apathetic about keeping the fort, its defenders - including Colonel James Bowie, Lieutenant Colonel William Travis, and famed frontiersman Davy Crockett - insisted on defending the Alamo. Only around 200 soldiers defended the fort, and on February 23rd 1836 were besieged by a formidable Mexican army, numbering thousands of troops, led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Despite overwhelming odds, the Texans managed to repel the attack for 13 days, before being overpowered on March 6th, when most of the defenders were killed. Mexican forces thus regained control of the Alamo fort, but Texans rallied around the incident as a symbol of their resistance against Mexican oppression; “Remember the Alamo!” became a popular war cry. In April, Houston’s army - buoyed by new recruits inspired by the Alamo - defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, and Texan independence was secured. The Republic of Texas was short-lived, as Texas was annexed as the 28th state of the United States in 1845. The annexation enflamed sectional tensions, as it raised the question of whether the new state would be slave or free. The action also exacerbated underlying tensions between America and Mexico - as Mexico did not recognise Texas’ independence - and led to war in 1846. The Alamo remains a powerful symbolic moment in Texan and American history, having been immortalised in numerous works of fiction; the site of the battle attracts over 2.5 million visitors a year.

Holocaust survivor Chaja Verveer lights a memorial candle for victims of the Nazi genocide during a Yom Hashoah service at Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy, May 5, 2016. 

Happy Juneteenth! This holiday marks the end of the official institution of slavery in the United States, and was historically widely celebrated by black Americans. The photo above is of a 1905 celebration in Richmond, Virginia. 

On this day in 1865, enslaved people in Texas were informed of their freedom, two years following the Emancipation Proclamation. Also on this day, the Civil Rights Act of 1963 was passed, after an 83 day filibuster in the US Senate. 

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June 19th 1865: Juneteenth

On this day in 1865, the abolition of slavery was formally proclaimed in Texas, in an event which has been celebrated as ‘Juneteenth’ (a contraction of ‘June 19th’). President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in rebelling Confederate states not under Union occupation, on January 1st 1863. However, the proclamation had little effect in areas like Texas which were not under Union control. It was two years later, in June 1865, when Union troops under Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, that abolition came to the state. The Union contingent brought the news that the American Civil War was over, following the surrender of Robert E. Lee in April. Upon his arrival, General Granger read General Order Number 3 declaring slavery abolished, leading thousands of former slaves to leave the state to seek employment or to find their families. Slavery was formally abolished throughout the entire United States with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in December 1865. Juneteenth was one of the first celebrations commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States, and served as a poignant time for the black community in Texas and elsewhere to come together in solidarity as they endured the hardship of Jim Crow which followed emancipation. The celebration of Juneteenth waned during the early twentieth century, largely due to financial concerns, but resurged with the onset of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas, making it the first state-recognised emancipation celebration. Now, Juneteenth is spreading beyond Texas, and has become a day for celebrating African-American achievement, and remembering the legacy of slavery.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free”
- General Order Number 3, read by General Granger June 19th 1865

July 19, 2009
Ian Kinsler becomes the fifth player in major league history to hit both a leadoff and walkoff home run in the same game. The Rangers’ second baseman led off the bottom of the first inning with a homer off Francisco Liriano, and then ended the contest in the bottom of the 12th with a game-ending two-run blast off R.A. Dickey to give Texas a 6-4 victory over Minnesota.