The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Professor talks black history

By Ashley Bradley/ne news editor

Texas Wesleyan University associate law professor Jason Gillmer, who received his Master of Laws degree from Harvard University, is scheduled to speak 12:30-2 p.m. Feb. 25 on NE Campus in NSTU Center Corner to celebrate Black History Month.

His presentation, Shades of Gray: The Life and Times of a Free Family of Color in Antebellum Texas, discusses the Ashworths, a free black family during the time of slavery.

“An obscure, yet prosperous free family of color, moved from Louisiana to Texas in the early 1830s, where they owned land, raised cattle and bought and sold slaves,” he said.

Gillmer said the story is unusual and one a number of people have never heard. He said usual stories from the time are either told from the perspective of the individuals being oppressed or those doing the oppressing.

“Their story reveals a tantalizing world in which — despite legal rules and conventional thinking — life was not so black and white,” he said. “The Ashworths never took a stand against slavery. To the contrary, they amassed a fortune on its back. Their story ultimately tells us as much about them as it does about the times in which they lived.”

Gillmer specializes in teaching torts, civil rights and constitutional law. He has had many works published and has given a number of presentations. He said his research focuses on race and law in general.

History instructor Mary Buinger said she became interested in Gillmer after seeing a quote from him in The New York Times. She said she looked at a couple of his publications and found him impressive.

“This case study he is presenting will give us a ‘window’ into this time period for African-Americans,” she said. “It should also show us the actions and beliefs of whites during the same time period. So in a way, this is a topic that intimately touches most Texans.”

Gillmer also impressed sociology professor Murray Fortner. Both Fortner and Buinger suggested Gillmer come speak for Black History Month.

“His publications are provocative. His credentials are outstanding,” Fortner said. “The subject matter of his research should provide our TCC family with information that is thought-provoking.”

In his free time, Gillmer likes to play music. He can play the bass, guitar and drums. His band, The Usual Suspects, plays locally. His wife is also in the band.

“We play at bars and private parties. We just play wherever they will let us,” he said.

He said he tries not to take himself too seriously.

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