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Samuel Walker Houston: A Pioneer of Black Education

Celebrate Black History Month with a look back at one of Texas’ greatest educators

As we celebrate Black History Month and look back on stories once forgotten, we remember the many Black Americans who paved a path for future generations. Samuel Walker Houston is held in high-regard as a leader of progress for Black education.

Houston was born February 12, 1864, in Huntsville to Joshua Houston and Sylvester Baker, both formerly enslaved by Gen. Sam Houston. After gaining freedom, his parents started their own businesses and taught their son to value education.

Influenced by Booker T. Washington and studies with his father, Houston realized education was his path to success. During the 1880s and 1890s, he studied at Hampton Institute in Virginia; Atlanta University in Georgia; and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Houston spent five years working as a government clerk for the War, State and Navy departments before returning to Texas in 1903.

After moving home, Houston taught at Red Hill Community School in Grimes County while founding and publishing a local newspaper, The Huntsville Times. In 1907, he established Galilee Community School in Walker County, Texas’ first academy for Black students in grades 1 through 12.

At his request, Houston’s school was incorporated into the Huntsville Independent School District in 1930. He became the Black county superintendent presiding over nine schools in Walker County. Samuel W. Houston Elementary School still holds his name today.

In addition to his work in education, Houston also served as the Commissioner of Interracial Cooperation and was Field Secretary and Director of the Texas Commission on Interracial Cooperation. Through his positions, Houston helped steward advancements for the Black community, effects of which are still felt throughout Huntsville and Walker County today.

The Samuel Walker Houston Museum and Cultural Center opened in 1991 to honor his legacy as one of Texas’ greatest educators. To learn more about this great man, segregated education and the civil rights movement, take a day trip to 1604 10th St. in Huntsville and explore the historical exhibits. Visit for more information.