Samuel Walker Houston School
Samuel Walker Houston (1871?-1945) was the son of Joshua Houston and Sylvester Baker, two former African American slaves who worked for General Sam Houston in Huntsville, Texas. During the 1880s and 1890s, he attended the nation's leading black schools, including Atlanta University in Georgia and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Shortly after the turn of the century, he returned to Huntsville and founded a training school in the nearby community of Galilee. Houston's school was one of the first county training schools for African Americans in Texas. It enrolled students at every level, from first grade through high school, and provided a curriculum based on the industrial education model espoused by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the founder and first principal at Hampton Institute. Young women at Houston's school received training in homemaking, sewing, and cooking, while young men learned carpentry, woodworking, and basic mathematics. In addition, Houston secured financial support from the Rosenwald Fund and the Slater Fund to support classes in music, education, and the humanities.
While working in Galilee, Houston married Hope Harville, a fellow teacher, on April 28, 1915. The couple then took up residence in a house near school grounds. They soon had several children and led the community through their example. In fact, by 1922, enrollment at Houston's school had grown to 400 students. P. R. Thomas, an educational reformer, called Houston's campus "the leading school of East Texas," and noted that it "had advanced under the leadership of the sage, Professor Houston, . . . from a low[ly] hut to [an institution worth] $15,000."
In 1930, at Houston's request, his school was incorporated into the Huntsville Independent School District. He then became the Black County Superintendent and later served as the principal of the African American high school that was named in his honor. Houston delivered his last public speech at the commencement of the 1944 graduating class of Sam Houston High School in Huntsville. He told the graduates: "True humility is a necessary quality for one who would be successful in the accomplishment of a great task. Another quality that is required for one who would be a leader is courage. He is not a real leader unless his courage remains steadfast and he can move forward with his convictions whether there is a visible majority with him or not." Samuel Walker Houston died on November 19, 1945, and was buried in Huntsville's Oakwood Cemetery. His educational efforts helped to improve the lives of hundreds of African Americans in East Texas, and his example stands as a perfect demonstration of the resilience and creativity that African Americans employed in their battle against racial segregation.