kprc logo

‘The power of living history’: Meet the woman who’s helping to preserve Texas’ Black history

Meet the woman who’s helping to preserve Texas’ Black history
Meet the woman who’s helping to preserve Texas’ Black history

HOUSTON – The gift of storytelling is an art form that has the ability to entertain, educate and even heal. Naomi Mitchell Carrier has been using her talents to teach a generation through powerful performances. From writing and composing the renowned historical musical “I Am Annie Mae” to founding the Texas Center for African American Living History (TCAALH), Carrier is helping to lead the charge to preserve Texas’ Black history and has no plans of slowing down.

Naomi Mitchell Carrier, founder and CEO of the Texas Center for African American Living History, strives to heal and educate a generation through performance. (Texas Center for African American Living History)

“TCAALH started in 2007, but it dates back to 1995 when I began to do living history reenactments for the George Ranch Historical Park,” said Carrier. “Everything about our company is a derivative of the musical ‘I Am Annie Mae,’ which I wrote with Ruth Weingarten back in 1987.”

The musical is a 90-minute one woman show that details the life and family history of Annie Mae Hunt. It has been performed nationwide and helped establish Carrier’s reputation as a preeminent purveyor of Texas’ Black history.

“Because of that musical, my life has become one of being a storyteller. Finding the stories, documenting the stories and then sharing the stories with the people,” said Carrier.

Since then, Carrier has also written a collection of 15 plays titled “Go Down, Old Hannah: The Living History of African American Texans,” which is intended to be a tool for educators to teach for both children and adults to perform.

Recently, Carrier has taken up filmmaking, releasing a short film in 2020 titled “Emancipation: Through It All We Made It,” as well as four short films featuring notable Galveston women in the women’s suffrage movement. She recalled a memorable encounter with an audience member after a recent film screening.

Naomi Mitchell Carrier, founder and CEO of the Texas Center for African American Living History, strives to heal and educate a generation through performance. (Texas Center for African American Living History)

“I had a white man and his wife come up to me and say, ‘Before I came to this film screening I knew this much about Black history. After being here and listening to your stories, now I know this much,’” said Carrier. “I consider that measurable. That’s quantitative. It’s qualitative, and that is what we intend to do.”

With decades of hard work under her belt and numerous accolades to her name, Carrier believes there is still much to be done.

“My self-appointed mission is to save a generation and to leave a footprint,” said Carrier. “People will only respect and preserve what they love. They will only love what they understand, and they will only understand what they are taught. So, my role I all of this is to teach and to heal.”

To connect with Carrier, visit the TCAALH website.


About the Author:

Olivia Kolanek is the Associate Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the team after working in non-profit communications for three years. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.