A former slave, pastor, educator and pioneer, Jack Yates used his emancipation to bring promise and hope for the future of Houston’s African-Americans.
Yates, like others of his time, helped to craft the legacy of post-slavery Texas — a tapestry tightly woven by religious faith and church. The first pastor of the Antioch Baptist church in the late 1860s, he became a symbol for the black clergy, forging a path for African-American religious leaders in the early 20th century and for time to come. A constant advocate for the education of free slaves, he established a school at Antioch to teach not only children, but their parents as well.
Houston’s Jack Yates High School is named in his honor. Though he was heavily involved in school and church, Yates also was considered a mentor for the people of Freedman’s Town in the Fourth Ward, where he urged former slaves to buy land and own homes. In fact, he and others bought the land now known as Emancipation Park. Born in 1828, he died in 1897. His legacy lives on.