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Black History Month: The Other Houston

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- You've heard of Sam Houston. You've probably even seen that big statue of the seventh governor of Texas along I-45 on the way to H-town.

But you might not have heard of this man who shares that famous last name: Joshua Houston. He was born a slave in Alabama. But in his 80 years, he went "From Slave to Statesman." In fact, that's the title of his 1993 biography.

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He was a servant to Sam Houston, but Sam broke some of the rules of the day--and even some of the laws when it came to his slaves.

Joshua learned to read and write.

"There are many stories of people who maimed and beaten once their master found out they were trying to read," said Sandaria Faye, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, and author of Mourner's Bench.

While living in the governor's mansion in Austin, Joshua Houston met some of the top leaders of the state.

Sam Houston even freed his slaves in 1862, but most of them stayed loyal to the family.

Joshua even offered his life savings to Houston's widow--2 grand in gold, but she turned down the offer and told him to use the money to educate his children.

He ran a blacksmith shop in Huntsville, became a city alderman and later a county commissioner--and even a delegate to the 1884 Republican National Convention

Quite a life, one that no one expected, especially for an African American in Texas in the 19th century.

"Education was the key to freedom," Faye said.

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