GROUNDBREAKERS: Celebrating Black History Month

GROUNDBREAKER: One that innovates

For Black History Month, we’re running a series entitled "Groundbreakers" featuring stories from Black athletes highlighting the people they see as having broken ground before them. New Groundbreakers are born every day. This month, we celebrate a handful of those who have inspired Black athletes of today. 




Michelle Morton running on a trail near her home in Houston

When I had just moved to the south side of Houston, I was struggling to find a safe place to run. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many sidewalks on this side of town. But thankfully I was able to spot a small park less than ten minutes away from me. The trail there was only one mile long, but it would have to do. So, I jumped in my car and drove the short distance only to discover the parking lot empty. I tried not to let that bother me as I got out of my car and walked towards the entrance of the loop. I noticed a historical marker off to the side, so I decided to check it out.  

As I read the words that were written, I was overcome with a sense of connection. The park was the former homestead of E.R. and Ann Taylor and had been donated to the city in 1986, one year after I was born. E.R. was in the Civil War when he contracted tuberculosis forcing him to be discharged. Upon returning home, he was cured by his father’s former slave, Ann. They fell in love and were married but not legally of course, since interracial marriage was illegal at that time.  

The couple moved far out of town to this land where they would prosper and have six children. Some of those children would go on to be among the first African Americans in the state of Texas to receive a college education. 

My life’s story, over one hundred years later, would read somewhat similarly. You see, my dad is African American and my mother Mexican American. Even in the 80s, their courtship was frowned upon. But they had me, and I would go on to become a first-generation college graduate.

I knew after reading the plaque that this was where I was meant to run that day. As I ran around their land, a sense of gratitude swept over me. I wouldn’t be here today, able to do what I do and be who I am, if someone hadn’t taken a risk. 

The path I run was not paved by me, but I’m going to make sure to make good use of it. 


About the author: 

Michelle Morton is a Houston-based Altra R.E.D. Team member, endurance athlete, healthcare worker, and dog mom. 

Follow her on Instagram: @mic2lee