Black History Month: Teacher remembers heroes of the struggle

HARLINGEN — When Sessia Wyche thinks of Black History Month, a broad range of sentiments, experiences and heroes come to mind.

“It reminds me how much I have learned, how much I have been blessed by the Lord by going through difficult times,” said Wyche, 70, who teaches algebra 2 and calculus 3 at Texas State Technical College.

Black History Month reminds Wyche, a married father of four children, of what has been accomplished in the United States in the past 60 years in the struggle for civil rights.

He has been an educator throughout his life. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics in 1970 from Texas A&I University in Kingsville (now Texas A&M). He immediately began teaching there while working on his master’s in mathematics and computer science, which he completed in 1972.

As a scientist and mathematician, it only stands to reason that one of Wyche’s favorite people in African American history is George Washington Carver.

“He created so many products from a peanut,” Wyche said enthusiastically. “He was a true scientist. Matter-of-fact, when I started college I would read about some of these black heroes that I didn’t know anything about.”

He’s saddened by the fact the segregated school he attended didn’t even teach black history. He didn’t learn it at home, either, but that was because his father preferred to talk about more positive things.

“He didn’t want to talk about anything that happened in the past, because he didn’t want his children growing up with a negative attitude, and I thank him for that,” he said.

Once he graduated from high school, though, he took the initiative himself to read up on black history. Another mover and shaker that caught his attention was Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When I saw the way Martin Luther King was doing things, that impressed me and that’s what has really helped me also,” he said. “For the last 12 years, I’ve really been reading and studying the Bible.”

Wyche is now heavily involved in prison ministry, all the while still teaching.

His first teaching gig in Kingsville lasted until 1978, and then he worked for Southwestern Bell. He taught at the University of Texas at Brownsville for 22 years and has been at TSTC for six years.

Acquiring his education, of course, was fraught with difficulties even before he finished public school. He spent 12 years in a segregated school with no white classmates, and when he began college at Wharton Junior College in 1964, he was the only black man there.

“It was culture shock for me,” he said.

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