Small town man exemplifies the spirit of Black History Month

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If you drive to Houston on US Highway 290 then you have, no doubt, passed through the town of Giddings. On one side of a historic business, the small town has a colorful mural that says “Hometown Hospitality, Some Things Never Change!”

Sometimes, the town has gold flags with a heavy breathing black buffalo printed on it with the words “Giddings Buffaloes” over it.

The town still has a brown Wal-Mart, a Bealls, a gigantic “Jesus Light of the World” sign and a deli proudly named “Reba’s.” The town is so small that the only identifying mark of the county’s end is a gigantic tree and the corner of small, blue ranch house.

Giddings is home to the Buffaloes, but it is also home to Govan Garage & Wrecker Service. Doward Govan and his family own a thriving, Black-owned business where old plantations were converted to cattle ranches.

Opened in 1961, the business is the only Black-owned wrecking service for almost the entire stretch of highway between Giddings and Brenham. 

For nearly 35 years, Govan worked at the local factory located 11 miles from Giddings. After his father passed away, he took over the business.

Govan has lived in Lee County his entire life. 58 years of living in a county named after Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Govan knows Lee County and the surrounding counties like the back of his hand. He can point where the old plantations home used to be before they were finally torn down.

Govan lived through segregation, integration and the election of the first Black president. He now predicts the next president will be Hispanic. Govan smiles at the mention of the possibility of electing Hillary Clinton to be the first president that is a woman.

He just says “We’ll see.”

This man and his family are a part of Black history in Texas. Their success seems almost insignificant, but it is truly remarkable. He is a reminder that Black history is forever. Whether it is the result of apathy or ignorance, Black History Month has become tolerated instead of celebrated.

This man’s proud telling of his story is truly inspiring.

Black History Month is about celebrating this victorious resilience. This month is about celebrating this virtual drop in an ocean. American history is written on his quick to smile face.

Black History Month should never just be a section in a Social Studies’ lesson plan. Black History Month is the organic celebration of the historic resilience of entire race of people. Any month dedicated to the empowering of a once disenfranchised group should be cherished. Racial/ethnic disharmony is prevalent in our country and should not be relaxed just because our president identifies as Black.

This man and his family are Black history. Black History Month should not just idolize and highlight the contribution of a miraculous and courageous people from a specific decade. The local contribution of millions of Black men and women should be studied along with the studying the Little Rock Nine, the Freedom Rides and the Birmingham Campaign.

This man is neither President Barack Obama, Medgar Evers nor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. However, his small contribution to a part of Texas that most people will never hear of is extraordinary.

Black History Month is about recognizing that history did not conclude with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Black history is eternally organic. It is the celebration of the election of the first Black Congresswoman as well as first and only Black owned wrecking service. Black History Month should not be degraded to a 50 minute video in a 10th American History class.