Festival celebrates African-Americans in times of war
Feb. 10, 2018 at 9:18 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2018 at 8:01 a.m.
John Thomas Earl Gibson carefully used magnets to attach pictures of African-American soldiers who served in the Civil War and other American wars throughout history.
The faces of the men in the photos would be seen by Victoria residents as Gibson's two black cars slowly drove by them in a parade down North Street.
"It's to remind them of people who served in the military," the U.S. Army veteran said. "You can't just say, 'I'm free.' Somebody paid for your freedom."
The Victoria Black History Committee hosted their annual Black History Parade and Festival on Saturday at the Victoria Community Center. This year's theme was "African-Americans in Times of War."
The parade started at Patti Welder Middle School and ended at the community center where the festival began.
There were 30 entries in the parade and about 100 people who attended the parade, said JT Murphy, the parade organizer.
Stephanie Loewe, 45, of Hallettsville, was supporting her daughter, who is a cheerleader.
She said she tries to show her support for Black History Month in any way she can and hoped more people were there to show they support, too.
"It matters that we care about our history and how we got here," the University of Houston-Victoria criminal justice and psychology double major said. "We have come a long way but still have a long way to go, so showing our support definitely shows we are inclusive of everybody."
Kelvin Orlando Scott, 48, of Victoria, was the grand marshal of the parade and a speaker at the celebration. The U.S. Army veteran, who moved to Victoria in 2010 after his last tour in Iraq, invited his family from Ferriday, La., to the festival.
"I called them once I got the notice to be a speaker and grand marshal," he said. "It's an honor for me to have them come and share this moment with my family."
Scott spoke about his experiences and also informed the festival attendees how the military provides good opportunities.
Sherilyn Shelton, an event organizer in charge of entertainment, said more than 200 people were in attendance at the festival.
She said the festival was not just open for African-Americans; anyone from the public was invited, too.
Celebrating with people from different backgrounds helps people be one and get along, she said.
"Being together, we are only one. And if we can involve different nationalities, we will become together one big family here in Victoria," Shelton said.