Today, Museum Attendant Doug Daye gives us his impressions of his visit to the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, also known as SAAACAM. Enjoy Doug’s post and do make plans to visit SAAACAM for yourself!
When I moved to San Antonio, which was only a couple of years ago, I took some time to go and explore many of the attractions that the city had to offer. I had only been to San Antonio a handful of times as a child with my family: I had been to Six Flags, SeaWorld, and the San Antonio Zoo, but now was my time to explore San Antonio as a new adult resident.
I explored various places around the city including the Pearl, a few restaurants, the Riverwalk, a few of the parks, and (of course) the Alamo. I also found out about various fun, local events such as the Luminaria Arts Festival and Fiesta. However, as I was adjusting to San Antonio and exploring that city and its culture, I noticed that there seemed to be a lack of representation for African Americans. As a young Black man that was new to the city, I felt left out and disappointed. Eventually, I found out about the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) and their efforts to educate the community. The SAAACAM seeks to interpret and preserve the history of African Americans in San Antonio that intertwines with the legacies of the Spanish, Mexican, German, and Canary Island populations who contributed to the foundation of the city.
Upon my visit to the SAAACAM exhibit space, I was impressed with the timeline display that features notable figures and events in Black history in Texas and San Antonio. Here are few names included on the timeline:
- Hendrick Arnold – a spy during the Texas Revolution who relayed information to General Travis at the Alamo
- Joe – a slave of William Travis who also fought at the Alamo and survived to tell about the massacre
- General Gordon Granger – a messenger sent to Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free on June 19th, 1865 (two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation)
- Ms. Artemis Bowden – became principal of St. Phillip’s Day school, a school for African American Girls, and later founded St. Phillip’s Junior College
- Hattie Ruth Elam Briscoe – became the first African American woman to graduate from St. Mary’s University Law School and served as Bexar County’s only African American female attorney for 30 years
- Garlington Jerome Sutton – elected to the Board of Trustees of San Antonio Junior District, and was the first African American from San Antonio to serve on the Texas State Legislature
They also feature a transitional exhibit space that features various subjects that change every few months. Currently, they are featuring the achievements of Eugene Coleman who started SNAP, which was an African American news publication that highlighted civil rights activists, segregated business practices, and various issues concerning the Black community of San Antonio. He also had many other achievements including becoming one of the original staff members for Ebony and Jet magazines.
As a young Black man who is still fairly new to San Antonio, I am glad there is a place where I feel that I can connect to and learn about the contributions African Americans have made to this city’s history. I’m glad that I can inform and encourage others to visit the SAAACAM and support them in their efforts!
Find out more about the SAAACAM and their community events, including the Black History Film Series and River Boat Tours here: https://saaacam.org/