The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

In this first full biography of Joshua Houston, Patricia Prather and Jane
Clements Monday successfully place this important figure in his proper histori-
cal context. In a handsomely designed, profusely illustrated book, appropriate
for either a coffee table or a library shelf, they tell the story of Houston's quan-
tum leap from slave to statesman, from trusted servant of Gen. Sam Houston to a
black educator who "created a path and left a legacy."
Joshua Houston was born a slave in Alabama in 1822. When his owner Mar-
garet Lee married Sam Houston in 1840, he moved with them to Texas. Having
learned to read and write, and being allowed to earn and keep money while still
a slave, Houston was prepared for freedom when his master emancipated him in
1862. He became a property owner, a political activist-winning the posts of city
alderman and county commissioner-and a leader in the education of blacks in
Huntsville. In fact, Houston's greatest contribution and most poignant legacy
was his struggle to educate his family and community. His faithful stewardship
and his long interest in the education of blacks in Huntsville epitomize the slo-
gan "Lifting as we climb."
Prather and Monday clearly trace the facts of Houston's life and career against
the backdrop of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Texas. Yet their atten-
tion to detail regarding Houston's role in certain periods is both a strength and
a weakness. Their meticulous recounting of events sometimes impairs their
analysis. There is too much conjecture in the absence of concrete evidence.
These flaws, however, do not detract from the excellent job the authors have
done in telling Houston's story despite the scarcity of primary source material.
The nearly forty pages of notes and bibliography attest to their research in perti-
nent primary sources: manuscripts, letters, diaries, and court records. Their use
of oral history, personal interviews, and genealogical records also strengthens
the book. This biography will long remain the principal source of information
on Joshua Houston's background, career, and thought.
Texas Southern Universzty MERLINE PITRE
Essays on the American Civil Rights Movement. By John Dittmer, George C. Wright,
and W. Marvin Dulaney. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
1993. Pp. xiii+95. Preface, introduction. ISBN 0-89096-540-4. $22.50.)
The University of Texas at Arlington has been publishing its Walter Prescott
Webb Memorial Lectures, addressing various themes in American history, for
two and a half decades. Essays on the American Civil Rights Movement, number
twenty-six in the series, marks a new height for the Webb lectures. It represents
one of the series' first attempts to focus on race and ethnicity as a central ele-
ment in U.S. politics and society. In the larger historiographical context, this
compact volume reflects the growing effort among scholars to move the black
freedom struggle to a more significant position in the historical synthesis of the
twentieth century. In three brief chapters, Essays reveals some of the main fea-
tures of the emerging critical scholarship that has begun to rethink the black
movement and social change in the U.S.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed October 2, 2014.