Houston’s only African American library preserves history with $50,000 grant

Here's what we know about the historic library

FOURTH WARD – In the heart of Houston’s Fourth Ward community is the African American Library at the Gregory School.

”It laid abandoned for about 20 years,” Miguell Ceasar, Manager of the library said.

From photo collections, paintings, portraits and books, you’ll find the pulse of Black history.

”The building itself, like you said, is a monument or symbol of progress,” he said. “Once forgotten, you can say like African Americans to now renewed, new attention.”

It’s the only African American library in the city.

”Black history is everyone’s history,” Ceasar said.

Ceasar is the manager of the library and an archivist.

”So, we are a collecting institution,” he said.

They are currently taking on one of their biggest projects yet, with help from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

”The grant was for $50,000, and so, by the end of the grant, we would have digitized. We’ll have 29,000 images online,” Sheena Wilson said.

But the collection is much larger.

Wilson is the lead archivist. She says the collection features photos from 1980 to 1990 shot by Houston Chronicle photographer Ben DeSoto.

”So, it’s really a period of time where the neighborhood started to change due to gentrification, and his work kind of captures that amazingly,” Wilson said.

Wilson says the grant is helping them preserve an important part of Houston’s history.

”All these little stories matter because once you put the little stories together, you’re able to tell the larger story of Houston history,” she said.

To explore the collection, click here.

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