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Know Your History: The Millican Race Massacre



Today is the fourth anniversary of Juneteenth being recognized as a national holiday. The day celebrates when union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX in June 1865 to announce that the Civil War had ended, and to make it known that all enslaved people were free. Since Juneteenth has its roots in Texas, I decided to do a little research into what was happening during this time in Brazos County. What I discovered shocked me because it was not something I had ever learned about. Last summer, the Friends Youth Group traveled to Tulsa where they learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, and the violence that was perpetuated against Black communities during the Reconstruction Era. We were told that many people who grew up in Tulsa were not taught in school or in their own communities about the Tulsa Massacre, and how that history being swept under the rug was to the detriment of many. I had not anticipated that I would uncover a similar massacre that occurred right in our own backyard.

 

Upon researching Reconstruction history in Brazos County, I came upon an article discussing the Millican Race Massacre. Millican is only a few miles south of College Station, and yet, I had never heard of this history. I learned that Millican had a relatively active population following the Civil War due to its positioning along the railroad. In June of 1868, the Ku Klux Klan arrived in Millican and began terrorizing Black neighborhoods. Eventually a militia was formed in the neighborhood, under the leadership of George Brooks. Brooks was a local Methodist minister who had formally served in the United States Colored Troops, he also advocated for increased Black voter registration and was instrumental in leading Black resistance in the face of racial violence in Millican. As the community organized, rumors were spread around town and tension escalated until a massacre broke out July 15-17, leading to the violent death of Pastor Brooks and the murder and displacement of some 300 Black people in Millican, greatly hindering the growth and development that the community had fostered in the early years of the Reconstruction.

 

Juneteenth is a celebration, but we do not get to join that celebration until we recognize our own history. It is the same reason that many Christians remind that we cannot arrive at the Easter celebration until we have witnessed the pain of the cross. With this history, may you have important conversations with others in our community, may you use this time to learn more about Black history in our area, and then go out and support many of the locally owned Black restaurants.

 

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