Below are brief introductions to three key figures in Part I - The Long Black Line.

These are our “stars” – each one is proof that an individual can make a difference in this world.

We’d love to hear from anyone who can connect with these individuals -- please email us (, or visit our "Get Involved" section above to share feedback or new information.

For the residents of Mt. Union in the 1930s and early 1940s, a person’s status was not determined by their car but by their mule. Your mules plowed the fields, and carried you to town to buy flour and sugar. When Professor B.T. Henry drove into Mt. Union around 1942, he brought the 20th century with him in many ways.

His first challenge: proving that his teachings would be adaptable to life in the rural East Texas community. Families could not afford to send their children to school full-time… the children had to help earn a living. ...more


Sears, Roebuck & Company became a household name because of the energy and vision of Julius Rosenwald. He developed Sears’ mail-order business when much of the nation lived in small villages and on farms.

Rosenwald’s leadership extended to his philanthropy. He created the Rosenwald Foundation in 1917 to make his donations “investments in a more equitable society.” African-Americans and European Jews were the primary focus of the Foundation, whose activities ranged from establishing dental clinics in public schools to supporting Admiral Richard Byrd’s 1928 expedition to the South Pole. ...more


Arvetta Barnett was born in 1905, and her life spanned nearly the entire 20th century. She was a tall, handsome woman with a dark, rich complexion and a sharp mind. Very early in life, she learned that, if she spent her time simply waiting for better days, opportunities would never arise. Arvetta was determined to give her 4 sons the opportunities that she hadn’t had. She started by creating a fruit and vegetable garden, and selling all of the produce from the garden in the nearby towns to support the family. Later, she helped to raise the money to build Walnut Hill School, where her boys and the other children of the community could get a solid education that went beyond 6th grade. ...more

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