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Congressional delegates celebrate Black History Month during Brownsville visit

(Source: KGBT Photo)

Our congressional leaders didn't just address voting rights, but they also celebrated Black History Month in the Valley's largest city.

On Monday, Brownsville historian Tony Zavaleta gave a presentation about the Brownsville Raid to Black and Latino Congress members.

The 1906 event was the killing of a white woman by a white man in black face.

"I grew up here and I grew up believing African-American soldiers did this," Zavaleta said and continued, "But it was never true."

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee told CBS 4, this story shows a side of Brownsville many didn't know.

"The importance of American-Americans serving in this area," she said.

According to Zavaleta, at the time, the only Black people in Brownsville were soldiers in Fort Brown.

The shooting ended up being pinned on one of them.

“With sadness, learn of heroes and in the sadness of learning what the hatred and divisiveness does," Jackson Lee said.

The incident led to the dishonorable discharge of all 167 black soldiers by President Teddy Roosevelt.

Zavaleta told the group, when community leaders were working on honoring the soldiers with a Texas state historical marker, it was met with disappointment from people of Brownsville.

"That all this is not without hate. I and others have received a number of phone calls from individuals in this community who will go to their graves believe African-Americans did this," Zavaleta said.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee says it's important to reflect on past events like this, in hopes of bringing people together.

"To join with people who disdain hate and want to see the importance of the Hispanics, African-American, Anglo and Asians communities working together," she said.

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