One Common Goal
Twin City Black History Association (TCBHA) is a group that recognizes, exemplifies and celebrates black history. Established in 1992 by Sandra Calloway and Bobbie Milligan Tatum, TCBHA has a rich history of unifying Texarkana, USA. The organization started as an opportunity to bring the twin cities together for one common goal—community service and making a difference for all people. President of TCBHA, Novella Medlock, emphasized they are an organization focused on advancing the Texarkana community forward. “In order to focus on our future, we must acknowledge and honor our history. It is no longer about I and me, but it is about us and we,” Medlock said. There has been much progress accomplished throughout the 30-year history of TCBHA. Treasurer and Banquet Chair, Rae Thigpen, said, “The first scholarship banquet we held was in the cafeteria of a local school. We finally stepped out on faith and went out to the convention center and haven’t looked back.” Thigpen expressed, “The TCBHA team allows every person to serve in a leadership role and everyone knows how to support each other. We let each other lead and then follow. The best leaders are the ones that can follow.” Finance Secretary and Assistant Youth Coordinator, Veronica Fulce, said, “When Rae talked me into joining TCBHA, I had no idea what all the organization did, but I am so grateful and thankful that she included me. This organization is an asset to the community. We showcase talents, we bring in guest speakers that otherwise may have never come to Texarkana, and we show Texarkana that the African American community is alive and well. TCBHA is not just limited to African Americans. It is a group of people that are promoting the Texarkana community and trying to help where we can.”
Each February, to honor black history, TCBHA holds several celebrations, including a City-Wide Church Service, Black History Parade, Youth Rally and Sandra Calloway Scholarship Banquet. Additionally, throughout the year TCBHA holds a school supplies drive, a coat drive in partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, a blanket drive benefiting local nursing homes and a fan drive.
The annual City-Wide Church Service is typically held the first Thursday of each February. The service has consisted of choir performances, an inspirational speaker, sermons, praise dancing, poetry readings, a musical and sharing the history of our twin cities. Anita Pickett, Chair of the Church Service, said, “This service sets the tone for the Black History Month events by honoring God first. We want everyone to understand the what and the why of what we do. We make sure that God is at the forefront of all of our events and decisions because without God, it would be impossible.” Traditionally, the next TCBHA event is the Black History Month Parade held in Downtown Texarkana. The parade is open to everyone, and participants include area schools, marching bands, steppers, cheerleaders, churches, civic organizations, floats, vehicles, AKAs, horseback riders, the corvette club and more. There is no entry fee for the parade and this year it will be held on Saturday, February 26.
Following the parade is the Sandra Calloway Scholarship Banquet. Sandra Calloway was a teacher in the Texarkana Arkansas School District and had a major impact on students in our community. She taught school all the way up until her death and was one of the original founders of TCBHA. This year the scholarship banquet in her honor will be back for the first time since prior to the pandemic and will be held February 26 at 6:00 PM at the Texarkana Convention Center. Previous speakers at the banquet include Jerry “Boo” Mitchell, Dr. Larry Sullivan, Debbie Turner, Linda Poindexter, George McGill and Doug Jones. Individual sponsors can purchase tables, and individual tickets can be purchased on the TCBHA website. Scholarships awarded from funds raised at the banquet are eligible for over twenty school districts in Bowie, Miller and Cass Counties. Scholarship applicants must be majoring in education and recipients are chosen based on greatest need. There are typically two $500 scholarships awarded annually, and recipients have gone on to accomplish amazing things. For example, one of the first scholarship recipients, Dr. Lloyd Jackson, is now an Assistant Superintendent in Kansas City, Missouri. Scholarship Chair Anita Pickett said, “I am an educator, and it is a joy to award students with these scholarships and see them used for the purpose for which they were received. Some of my former students have been selected as scholarship recipients, and I have been extremely impressed by their future successes.” Anita also said, “My daughter actually received the scholarship and is now a recruiter for Texas College. TCBHA encourages our recipients to give back to the community when at all possible. You can never go wrong investing in a child’s education.”
The TCBHA Youth Rally is held each February and allows youth in the Texarkana community to showcase their talents. Youth Rally Chair and Vice-President of TCBHA, Wanda Davi, said, “As an educator, becoming involved with the Youth Rally has been an extension of what I’ve done with youth in the public school. To see young people have the courage to come forward, open up and showcase themselves to the world is a great joy to me.” Individuals 18 years of age and under are eligible to participate in the showcase. Performance options include singing, praise dancing, playing musical instruments, orations and more. Motivational speakers, MCs and comedians also attend and perform throughout the rally. In reflecting on the event, Davis said, “I love to see youth involved and given the opportunity to advance themselves. TCBHA is an avenue where youth can excel and exemplify their inner-them. Sometimes they don’t get that opportunity and we want to open the door to give them every opportunity to showcase their talents. It takes courage!” Hickory Hill Baptist Church has served as the venue for the rally for years. It began with the late Reverend Paul Keener opening up his church for the youth to come and be able to show off what they can do. Without hesitation or any conflicts, he would always be open to the event. Now, after Reverend Keener’s passing, Reverend James Hood stepped up to continue what Reverend Keener started. He has graciously opened the doors, and the church membership welcomes everyone with open arms.
The time is always right to do what is right.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Texarkana has made a tremendous impact on the individuals involved in TCBHA. Pickett stated, “Being the wife of a military person, I lived abroad for 30+ years. I appreciated the opportunity, but there was nothing like coming home to Texarkana. I never thought I would work at the same high school I graduated from. Texarkana has changed a lot over the past 62 years. It has changed for the better; we are recognizing diversity and the strength of all people. I could have lived anywhere in the United States, but I chose Texarkana.” Medlock said, “In moving to Texarkana, I was able to obtain higher education. I first graduated from Texarkana College, then moved on to East Texas University, then to Texas A&M University-Texarkana. This had a major impact on me as an individual who knew the importance of higher education. I have served on several boards, gone through Leadership Texarkana, have had the opportunity to network and work for an employer where I feel like I am free to be me. I have been embraced by the community as a whole and I feel good about Texarkana.”
President Medlock said, “Since joining TCBHA, I have learned a great deal more about the black history in Texarkana. If you don’t know the history, you do not know where you are going and the purpose, design and hope of what needs to be accomplished. It has helped me better understand where we have been and the direction of where we need to go. It has helped me become more involved and have a greater awareness of what is needed in the African American community. We are about helping people. It has no color. They have a need, and we want to help.”
The Twin City Black History Association has recently launched a brand-new website, www.tcbha.org. The website serves as a resource to the Texarkana community on TCBHA initiatives, upcoming events and activities. TCBHA encourages every Texarkana citizen to get involved and make a difference by inspiring, recognizing and preserving our black history and culture.