March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her. Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project. To read all the blog posts so far, click here.
By Emily Cousins
Lane Murphy researches African American history in Waco to keep the spirit and legacy of St. James Methodist Church alive.
Murphy, a writer at Baylor Magazine, bought the a former African American church, St. James Methodist. Now known as “2nd and Clay,” Murphy said they plan to turn the basement into a restaurant and use the upstairs for community gatherings, music and events.
Murphy said their goal is to continue the legacy of the building and to help bring into focus African American history in Waco that has been overlooked in the past.
African American Heritage in Waco, Texas: Life Stories of Those Who Believed They Could Overcome Impediments by Dr. Gary H. Radford, Sr. is currently Murphy’s favorite book because he is actively trying to learn more about the history of the church and the community that was once there.
“I think it all kind of ties in to some of the things the people had to overcome to make this building to bring it into existence. Also just to learn more about the struggles of African American people in Waco has been interesting and inspiring to me,” Murphy said.
He said Radford’s goal for the book is to inspire young African American people to pursue their dreams. Murphy wants this building to indirectly educate anyone who visits the restaurant or an event.
“It seems odd for me to be talking about African American history in Waco,” Murphy said. “I’m far from an expert. I’m certainly a novice in it. I have had the chance to meet a few people who contributed to this book who are still alive and others interested in African American history, and those people have inspired me to keep looking and keep searching in this book and other places and see how I can help contribute in any form or fashion to their goals.”