TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The City of Tyler and the public library are celebrating Black History Month by recognizing key families in the city’s history.

Post slavery, 11 prominent African American families settled in Tyler.

“They did not allow their struggles and their difficulties to preclude them from beginning a brand new life of entrepreneurship,” said District 3 City Councilwoman, Dr. Shirley McKellar.

The following families were recognized:

  • Francis family
  • Snoddy family
  • Houston family
  • Shackelford family
  • Goodman-Lipscomb family
  • Wells family
  • Erwin family
  • Dewberry family
  • Kennedy family
  • Butler family
  • King family

“We are standing on the shoulders of very strong family members, our ancestors who taught us even later on in the years that we can overcome any difficulties that we experience in our lives,” said McKellar.

During the research, many of these family members found out new information like landmarks in Tyler.

“My maiden name is Erwin and this street was named after my five generations great grandfather, Thomas B. Erwin,” said McKellar.

The community heard stories about Tyler’s heritage and heroes.

“Through perseverance, us as Black people are steady progressing and I want to see that continue,” said Bullard resident, Arthur Graves.

They say reflecting on history and the challenges that can be overcome, brings to mind one word, which is the theme of the night, ”Resistance.”

“Having been in the Armed Forces for 25 years and retired from the army, I find that perseverance is something that we can through it and hang on, we can improve our lives and things will change for the betterment,” said Graves.

Dr. McKellar hopes to continue investigating to find more first families in Tyler to recognize next year.