The Samuel Walker Houston Cultural Center spent Friday honoring the man who devoted his life to education in Huntsville.

Officials with the cultural center placed a wreath at the gravesite of Samuel Walker Houston’s in recognition of his birthday, which coincidentally is the same as George Washington. Samuel Walker Houston was born on February 22, 1864 to Joshua Houston — a slave of Sam Houston — is regarded as a trailblazer for the local African-American community.

“Joshua is typically honored by the majority, being the General’s slave,” said Lawanda Glaze director of the Samuel Walker Houston Cultural Center. “He had an amazing story too, eventually serving in the legislature, but his son’s legacy shouldn't be overlooked.”

Samuel attended Hampton Institute in Virginia, Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. He would go on to found the Galilee Community School in 1907, which later became known as the Houstonian Normal and Industrial Institute in Walker County. His school, which enrolled students 1st through 11th grade, was one of the first county training school for black children in Texas.

“Samuel was called back to Huntsville from Grimes County and founded the school,” Glaze added. “It was built with black money, on black property.”

Houston emphasized a vocational and mechanical academic program with course offerings in cooking and sewing, woodwork, carpentry and agriculture. Houston’s school became a part of Huntsville ISD in 1930, and he eventually would become the principal of nine schools across the region.

“Samuel followed the lessons of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois to strap your boots up and use your mind,” Glaze said. “His family was educated alongside the Houston family. Education was important to the General as well, Samuel carried on the legacy.”

Houston died November 19, 1945, but left his mark on Huntsville and Walker County history.

“Joshua and Samuel are the inspiration for the cultural center,” Glaze added. “Our motto is perpetuating a legacy of education, and their legacy is carried on today.”

The cultural center also celebrated Samuel’s birthday at Samuel Walker Houston Elementary with a cake and history lesson for area students. 

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