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Black History Museum in Marble Falls takes first concrete steps

Black History Museum in Marble Falls, Texas

The forms are up and waiting for a permit from the city of Marble Falls before the foundation can be poured for the Black History Museum at 301 Avenue N. The museum is being built one step at a time so it will be paid in full when it is completed, said museum organizer Bessie Jackson. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The forms are up for the foundation of the new Black History Museum on Avenue N in Marble Falls, which needs “just $100,000 more” to complete construction, guest speaker Bessie Jackson told the Marble Falls Kiwanis Club at its monthly luncheon on Jan. 2 at River City Grille. 

“We are constantly doing fundraiser after fundraiser to pay for this as we go along,” Jackson said. “I’m 81 years old, and I want this built and paid for before I go.” 

Jackson is a well-known community activist who works out of St. Frederick Baptist Church, 301 Avenue N, the home of the new museum. The church has been building a collection over the years designed to shine a light on the accomplishments of Black people locally and around the world. 

Dressed in a bright gold dashiki with purple trim and accents, Jackson held up a black and white photograph of Ruby Bridges being led to her first-grade class by U.S. marshals. Bridges was the first Black student to attend a formerly whites-only school in New Orleans. The image from Nov. 14, 1960, was used as the basis for an iconic painting by Norman Rockwell. 

Jackson added her own artistic touch to the photo she held. Printed above it were the words: “If this child was strong enough to survive it, your child is strong enough to learn about it.” 

Bessie Jackson at Kiwanis Club meeting, Marble Falls, Texas
Community activist Bessie Jackson was the guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Marble Falls on Jan. 2 to promote building a Black History Museum next door to St. Frederick Baptist Church in Marble Falls. She brought along a photo of Ruby Bridges being led to her first-grade class in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1960, when Louisiana desegregated. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

“Today, people want to take books out of school,” Jackson said. “They want to eliminate the writings about people like this: Ruby Bridges. If we don’t ever acknowledge what happened, it will happen again.” 

She told Kiwanis Club members of how she learned the importance of education while working as a housekeeper in Dallas. She was on her hands and knees cleaning the baseboards of a home when she realized she wanted more out of life.

“I told myself, ‘If I ever clean baseboards again, they are going to be mine,’” she said. “I got out and got an education, and I continue to educate myself.”

A 40-plus-year resident of the Highland Lakes, Jackson served on the Marble Falls school district board and the Granite Shoals City Council. She worked at the pharmacy in H-E-B and for Lakeland Mall, a grocery and department store where H-E-B now stands in Marble Falls. She successfully fought to get her daughter, an A student, on the Marble Falls High School drill team. 

During the Kiwanis Club meeting, she spoke about St. Frederick Baptist Church, where she is an active member. 

“We are the poorest church in the community, but we feed hundreds of people a week out of our fellowship hall,” she said, referring to the church’s Mission Outreach Program. “We gave out 400 Christmas packages to nursing homes and shut-ins for Elves for the Elderly this year. We are a united community. We work together. We can do this.”

By “this,” Jackson was referring to building the Black History Museum to fill a gap in the community’s education.

“We have got to get along together,” she said. “We have to relate to one another. We have to talk to each other.”

At this point, Jackson took a deep breath and began to sing, “There’s Room at the Cross for You.” 

“Though millions have come, there’s still room for one,” she sang. “Yes, there’s room at the cross for you.” 

Donations to the Black History Museum in Marble Falls may be mailed to: 

St. Frederick Church Building Fund 
P.O. Box 812
Marble Falls, TX 78654