Historical Society Celebrates 45 Years of Safekeeping and Uplifting Black History
The Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society proudly announced today the official details of The Future is Now – Keeping History Relevant, a gala celebrating the organization’s 45th Anniversary and its mission to preserve and share Black history with the Tarrant County community.
The special one-night event will take place March 26, 2022, from 7 to 10 pm at the Kimpton Harper Hotel. The historic building will be the perfect backdrop to an evening filled with the celebration of Black history, legacy, and empowerment. In concert with International Women’s History Month, the 45th Anniversary is an opportunity to spotlight the remarkable contributions that Black women have made to the county’s history and legacy. The celebration and program will include a salute to the honoree of the evening, Executive Director of the non-profit Historical Society and Curator of the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum, Brenda Sanders-Wise, and induct 11 new female members into the Hall of Fame, including the Grandmother of Juneteenth herself, Ms. Opal Lee. In addition to the honors awarded, the evening will include special remarks by Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, City Council Representative Chris Nettles, Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, US Congressman of District 33 Marc Veasey, among others. Attendees will enjoy dinner during the program provided by the Kimpton Harper Hotel.
The Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society was founded in April 1977 by 21 charter members. The organization was born from the mind of Ms. Lenora Rolla, a community activist and devoted public servant. As a member of multiple Bicentennial Committees, Ms. Rolla was concerned that the history of Tarrant County’s Black citizens was unrecognized during these celebrations. She founded the organization after realizing that none of the local universities or libraries held any significant material about Black history, and essential archival material only existed in private collections. Her vision to collect, safeguard, and uplift Black history for the future has led the organization for 45 years.
When asked about the 45th Anniversary and what this celebration means for the organization, President of Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, Jimmy Walker, said, “In 1977, Lenora Rolla had the vision to create an African American museum, that would educate our community about the significant contributions that African American men and women made, in Ft Worth, Tarrant County, Texas and beyond. I am excited to be celebrating our 45th Anniversary because our organization has believed in Lenora Rolla’s vision and has worked tirelessly to keep it sustained and alive. I am proud to say, through hard work, dedication, and commitment, we have sustained this organization for 45 years. Additionally, this celebration gives us the opportunity to recognize and honor some of the great trailblazers and thank our community for their continued support.”
The Historical Society often states that Black history is American history, although it often goes unnoticed, unsung, or, worse yet, erased. The organization’s commitment to upholding and preserving this history is evident by celebrating these 11 remarkable women, who’ve each shaped pieces of Tarrant County history in their own unique way. Alongside Ms. Opal Lee (a charter member of the organization), Hall of Fame inductees include Sarah Walker, Rhonda Pruitt, Dr. Gwendolyn Morrison, Dr. Gleniece Robinson, Vivian Lewis Wells, Clara Faulkner, Elvia McBride, Faye Barksdale, Erma Bonner Platte, and Marnese Barksdale Elder.
When asked about the organization’s choice to spotlight women’s contributions for the 45th Anniversary, Honoree and Executive Director Brenda Sander-Wise, said, “Our organization has chosen to spotlight these amazing Black women’s contributions to Tarrant County for the 45th Anniversary because of their courage and strength, self-confidence, optimism, and commitment to the community. These are amazing women who have defied the odds, breaking through glass ceilings, and becoming icons in their communities by paving the way for others to do the same, and creating a desire for a better future. Their stories serve as beacons of light. Most of all, their stories remind all of us that their history is significant.”
As a unique element of the evening’s festivities, the organization will announce the First Annual Lenora Butler Rolla Scholarship Competition and will award two $1,000 scholarships to deserving high school seniors in May. The students will be chosen based on a written essay about either, “Why Tarrant County Needs A Black History Museum” or little-known and forgotten figures in Tarrant County Black History. The scholarship application can be found on the organization’s website effective February 15, 2022.
Tickets can be purchased on the organization’s website, via PayPal or Cash App @TCblackhistory, and on Eventbrite HERE. Special sponsorship packages are available for organizations, businesses, and corporations.