From local authors tackling tough subjects of bullying, divorce and faith, to a national artist creating a painting of the Freedom Tree, to the mayor giving the key to the city to multi-platinum selling rap star and Missouri City native Travis Scott, the two-day Fourth Annual Black History Month Celebration of Culture & Music showed the diversity of Missouri City talent.
Coupled with the grand opening of the new Visitors Center which features a holographic virtual assistant and interactive kiosk inside the redesigned Community Center, it’s just another way to show what Missouri City has to offer to the public and for regional visitors, said City Manager Anthony Snipes.
“This is a way to share our tourism program which includes the Edible Arbor Trail, the Quail Valley Golf Course, HCC (Houston Community College) campus, Freedom Tree Park and more,” he said.
The evening started Friday with local authors presenting their books and talking with potential buyers and artists from as far away as Detroit showing off their creations. The varied works of nationally recognized artist and Missouri City resident Leonard Freeman lined the wall of the Visitors Center. Freeman’s work captured the attention of movie mogul Tyler Perry who spent $17,000 on one of his creations.
The city nabbed Freeman to create a mural for the city.
Freeman already spent more than 100 hours developing and painting the mural for the city which features the famous Freedom Tree, which holds Texas history as the place where General Granger announced to slaves, two years after the fact, that they were free, sparking the annual Juneteenth celebrations.
Freeman has spent more than 100 hours developing and painting the mural for the city, which features multiple faces, representing the city’s diversity, beneath the sprawling old oak tree. It was expected to be unveiled Friday night but Freeman said he needed another 30 hours to do it justice and will announce in the next month when it is complete.
“This tree is significant and I’m honored to be challenged. It’s weathered, worn, beat up, cracked and still alive. I’ve committed myself to it and I’m glad I did,” he said.
In addition to Freeman, three local authors brought their books and were thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of the celebration that attracted politicians, educators, students and art lovers.
Their books are meant to inspire. Author Fran Clark, who works for Child Advocates of Fort Bend County, had a seed of an idea for a book 20 years ago but she wasn’t ready to write. Once she allowed pen to hit paper she created “The Meeting On the Moon,” a powerful mystical tale of bullying from the point of view of the victim and perpetrator. The book, which received rave reviews on Amazon, tells one boy’s journey of pain, suffering, and forgiveness.
Missouri City resident Sherie Wesley wrote about her personal healing journey in a book that has her wounded soul talking to her healed self in “From: Broken, Bitter To: Better.”
She remembers being thrilled when an acquaintance was telling Wesley of a powerful book she’d just read that encouraged the woman to take back her power. It was Wesley’s book. “That just blessed my soul. We all go through things for a reason but we are never alone,” she said. “I just try to encourage.”
Wesley said she believes that, “through educating communities about the importance of emotional recovery, healing and prayer, that families and communities can be changed.”
Finally, Natasha D. Frazier brought her seven books including her latest “How Long Are You Going to Wait,” based on the scripture from Joshua 18:3 looks at turning your back on your God-given talents. Her books, which can be found on Amazon, includes novels and award-winning daily devotionals.
The second day of the celebration was dampened by rain, so they took it inside where they started the day with a forum on education featuring area educators.
“We’re proud to see our Black History Month tradition continue to recognize African-American culture and accomplishments. This year we wanted to seamlessly blend together celebrations of history, local artists, authors, educators, entertainers, business owners and of course our area youth,” said Snipes.
So the youths were thrilled when Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen declared Saturday “Travis Scott Day” and gave the new father the key to the city for his success in the music business.
The 25-year-old rapper and musician, whose real name is Jacques Webster, attended Elkins High School in Missouri City. Since he entered the rap scene, he raced to the top with his triple-platinum hit “Goosebumps” and was nominated for a Grammy. He had nearly 3 million track sales, and his music streams exceed one billion when President Barack Obama announced his annual favorite books and songs for 2017, including Scott’s hit “Butterfly Effect.”
On Feb. 1 Scott became a new father when his girlfriend, reality television personality and youngest member of the Kardashian clan, Kylee Jenner, gave birth to a baby girl she named “Stormi Webster.”
The mayor joked with Scott asking if he named the child after Hurricane Harvey.
“Missouri City salutes Jaques Travis Scott Webster for his excellent success in the music industry and commitment to the city and we give you our key to Missouri City so use this anytime you want to come back. Tell them, ‘hey, I got a key to the city,’” Owen said.
Scott was visibly moved by the recognition.
“I’m shaking now. We ran these streets up and down Cartwright. Course we tried not to speed ’cause they’d pull us over,” he said to laughs.
“This is my first award, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Scott. “This city gave me all my ideas. I owe everything to the city, the Chick-fil-A at Highway 6, Hightower. Today is better than any day.”
The audience went wild when Houston Rockets Star James Harden appeared on stage to the chants of MVP. Harden and Scott embraced and grinned.
“I want to hook people onto what this city has to offer. For somebody out there in this crowd, my job is to inspire kids to be their best. Everyone has a dream.”
His newest album is called AstroWorld.