Marshall has made a concentrated effort to research, document, and preserve its history with a particular interest in sharing historical accounts, materials and buildings with young people. The city’s Historic Landmark Preservation Board helped prioritize the creating a memorial for the extensive African-American history that is unique to the smaller city. The effort has focused on commemorating important sites associated with Marshall’s role in African-American history and the civil rights movement which resulted in the Buard History Trail. The Trail is named after Rebecca Buard (1909-2000), who was a teacher at Marshall’s first African-American high school and Wiley College. She also gathered oral histories and developed the Marshall Public Library’s collection of black history.
The trail is a driving tour that provides an overview of Marshall’s history and includes important African American sites, such as historic Wiley College, New Town and the Old Powder Mill Cemetery, which includes the graves of two of the famous Tuskegee Airmen who served in World War II. The city installed interpretative markers for each of the stops on the Buard History Trail.
Sites include information on Professor Melvin B. Tolson who inspired a generation of students at Wiley College, the oldest historically African-American college west of the Mississippi. He led the college team to a national debate championship in the 1930s. This feat was celebrated in the 2007 film, The Great Debaters. In 1941, one of those debaters, James Farmer, Jr., helped found the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). Marshall’s Courthouse Square was the site of the largest Civil Rights-related sit-ins in Texas.
For more information visit: http://texasforesttrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/buard-history-trail or http://wwno.org/post/african-american-history-marshall-texas-chronicled-new-video