African-American History

Dr. Will Coleman

A native Texan, Will Coleman (1882-1953) grew up caring for livestock on the Robert Witherspoon Ranch in Chatfield (12 miles northeast). His family moved to Corsicana in 1899; in 1911, Coleman graduated from the McGills University School of Veterinary Science in Montreal, Canada, and received his license to practice in Texas nine years later. By 1925, he had established his own veterinary clinic in Corsicana. One of the first black veterinarians in the area, Dr. Will Coleman lived at this site with his wife, Mattie, and their 12 children. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986

G.W. Jackson

G.W. Jackson was born in 1860 near Corsicana, Texas. He was educated at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and was an author of a number of books on education. He was a pioneer African-American educator, known statewide; he established the Corsicana school system for black students and served as the high school principal for 45 years. A Dallas black monthly newspaper giving a brief history of their city’s history of education, wrote: “…before Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School was built, Dallas’ black secondary students rode the Interurban daily to Corsicana’s Fred Douglas High School…”.

The G.W. Jackson High School, built in the 1920s, replaced the Fred Douglas High School, which was destroyed by a fire. The community named the school for the man who had devoted his life to the education of African-American children. It is said to be the first brick constructed black school house built in the State of Texas.

G.W. Jackson was well respected by all of Corsicana and was active in church and civic leadership. He was grandmaster of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows for six years. His obituary, written July 22, 1940 reads that he had one son, a Harvard graduate, who was employed by the New York City Post Office.

When the G.W. Jackson High School burned in 1971, as a result of arson, the house located on MLK Boulevard became the sole structure associated with the man who the African-American community in Corsicana find most meaningful.

Rex Ingram

Dean of American black actors, a Corsicana native, Rex (Clifford) Ingram was the son of Mack and Mamie Ingram. He graduated from Northwestern University before launching his brilliant acting career, which spanned 50 years. Ingram made his screen debut during the era of silent movies in a 1918 "Tarzan" film. He won widespread acclaim for his famous portrayal of "De Lawd" in the 1936 film "Green Pastures." Ingram also appeared on the Broadway stage and in several television productions, bringing his skill and dignity to every performance. He died and was buried in California.