Houston businessman Herman Wright Jr., a documentary filmmaker and founder of an African-American history project gaining widespread attention in East Texas, recently was awarded a research fellowship through Stephen F. Austin State University's Center for Regional Heritage Research.

Wright's investigation into his own family's history led him to create The Long Black Line, an organization devoted to telling the stories of African Americans in East Texas through the preservation of schools, churches, cemeteries and farms that formed the nucleus of community life.

The Center for Regional Heritage Research at SFA was established in 2007 to facilitate collaborative research into the natural and cultural history of East Texas. Its mission is to broaden the collective understanding of our shared history, to map the human geography of East Texas and to construct a "usable past" that can be utilized as a resource for community and economic development.

"We are delighted to welcome Herman as a member of our team here in the Heritage Center," said Dr. Mark Barringer, associate dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts and director of the center. "I anticipate that we will find numerous opportunities to work together to construct a compelling narrative of African-American life in East Texas."

Other fellows of the center named in the past two years include Tom Middlebrook, Morris Jackson, Brian Bray and John Yarbrough, all of Nacogdoches; Bobby Gonzales and Robert Cast, both of Binger, Okla.; Mark Walters of Tyler; and Connie Hodges of San Augustine.

More information about The Long Black Line can be found at www.thelongblackline.org. To learn more about the Center for Regional Heritage Research at SFA, e-mail April Davis at davisad@sfasu.edu or visit www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter.