Quest students record Humble history with Charles Bender alumni
Humble’s history is being kept alive through a collaboration between Quest Early College and Lone Star College’s Center for Local and Oral History to record the stories of Charles Bender High alumni.
One recent Friday morning, students conducted oral interviews of older Humble residents. Previously, students interviewed residents of the Bordersville community.
“Attempting this in Humble enables us to record and archive local memories from individuals with firsthand knowledge of past events,” said Robert Chris Davis, associate professor of history at Lone Star College in Kingwood.
The project also helps connect high school students with their community, he said.
Charles Bender was built in 1929, at a time when Humble was segregated and it served only the white residents of the area.
Humbles’ soil is soaked in history, which is why Davis, who founded the LSC Center for Local and Oral History, said it’s important to record stories from those who lived during the Great Depression and Civil Rights Era.
Davis said there has been a recent shift away from the traditional ways that students digest information.
“Educators are striving to incorporate more hands-on, research-based and experiential ways of learning, especially through the assistance and application of new forms of technology,” Davis said.
Davis said projects like this, recording oral history, help get students outside the classroom and connect history to someone’s once reality through the use of new technology.
“Oral-history projects such as these are an amazing but under-used pedagogical tool, enabling students to become historians for a semester, literally to make history,” Davis said.
There is a history to Humble that Davis said most people don’t recall.
“As many of the oral histories reveal, Humble is not, simply, an old oil town full of ranchers and cowboys, but rather a diverse and introspective community, a forward-looking community that also treasures its past,” Davis said.
He said it’s important to utilize the community members because they hold stories that won’t be found in textbooks.
“These community members have a wealth of knowledge and personal experience that would otherwise be lost; theirs is a fine-grained, very personal and lived history that cannot be found in textbooks,” Davis said.
Marian Smith, junior at Quest Early College said because of this project she learned so much more than expected specifically about the relevance of the Aldine district before schools were integrated.
“What surprised me, the Aldine school district was the only one with a black school, so they would have all the black kids bused over there,” Smith said.
Marian grew up hearing stories about the area from her family, but it was interesting to hear a different perspective and seeing the importance of documenting their stories.
“One of the really common sayings is learning from the past and from our mistakes,” Smith said. “By keeping the history of the area alive, we can learn from it.”
Quest Early College instructor, Marty Willits, said this oral history project includes the students’ interviews with Bordersville community members.
“We used the same questions which I thought, is important to do,” Willits said. “We are trying to leave documentation, video and audio of the historical significance of the area using different stories.”
Willits said his students are realizing the importance of oral history projects.
“My students who are listening to them talking, they see the significance of education and the stories,” Willits said.
Cyndy Davis, 67, Chris Davis’ mother, attended Charles Bender for a year and recalled her time there.
“I’ve lived in Humble since I was 10,” Cyndy Davis said. “I still live three blocks from here, just like I did.”
Cyndy Davis remembers a time where she associated camaraderie with growing up in Humble.
“As I grew up in this community, it was a peaceful community. Friday night football couldn’t have been bigger and more exciting,” she said.
The initiative shows that there are people who still care, she added.
“I’m thrilled because I’m on the other end of it, the older end that remembers all of this, now I’m seeing that people care to write it down to be saved,” Cyndy Davis said.