‘Ensure diversity’ is message for Longview 150 planners

The movement to make Longview’s sesquicentennial in 2020 a full community celebration must embrace diversity, city leaders said Wednesday.

“We must ensure diversity throughout this entire thing,” Community Services Director Laura Hill told at least 15 people who are planning Longview 150. “We can’t forget that. That’s critical.”

A planning committee of historians, community activists, arts supporters, city staff, church groups and other interested people from the public held a monthly planning meeting Wednesday at City Hall. Hill led committee members through a list of goals, events and ideas pondered for the city’s upcoming celebration of its founding in 1870.

Hill unveiled the Longview 150 logo as well as a T-shirt created by Forbes & Butler marketing and graphics firm depicting founder O.H. Methvin’s image that, once mass-produced, will be made available for sale at the Gregg County Historical Museum and other local places, she said.

“We had a sample,” Museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy said of the shirts, “and a guy came in (Tuesday) and wanted 10.”

Hill said she is also reaching out to R. Lacy Services in hopes of attracting Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress — the first woman and first black American to lead the national library — to speak in Longview about the Big Inch pipeline and its impact on the nation’s history.

Frank Jackson with the Gregg County Historical Museum said his group is pondering a ceremony about the Big Inch that could be held at Red Oak Baptist Church directly across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from the famed pipeline.

Hill has asked the News-Journal to resurrect a beard-growing contest first held during the city’s centennial celebration in 1970 that was known as the Brothers of the Brush, and she’s gotten confirmation that the Junior League of Longview will produce a sesquicentennial ball tentatively on Feb. 22, 2020, and that Longview Ambucs will produce the Grande Sesquicentennial Trek on April 18, 2020 — the same tentative date as a proposed parade — she said.

“It’s going to be pretty incredible,” Junior League member Melanie Northcutt Crocker said of the ball.

Meanwhile, First Baptist Church-Longview is planning a two-day celebration the weekend of April 18, 2020, that would include a Saturday night ice cream supper followed by Sunday morning worship services with an invitation to all of the church’s former ministers.

Information about sesquicentennial planning and events can be found on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook usually by searching the hashtag #longview150, committee members said.

Information and updates about Longview 150 planning can also be obtained from Hill by emailing her at lhill@longviewtexas.gov , she said. Hill reminded the committee that the city is merely coordinating and handing communications for planning the sesquicentennial but that its goal is for local churches, organizations and businesses to produce events throughout the first six months of 2020 to make Longview 150 a communitywide fete.

The committee plans to meet on the third Wednesday of each month over the next year, Hill added.