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Texas

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (1868- )

Vignette Type: 
Churches
History Type: 
African American History
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first African American Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, was organized in January 1866 by former slaves.  These individuals were assisted by white missionaries from the First Baptist Church and the German Baptist Church.  Antioch’s members worshiped at the two churches until they decided to hold services on Buffalo Bayou in what was called “Brush Arbor.”  Shortly thereafter, the congregation moved to “Baptist Hill,” located at Rusk and Bagby streets.  In 1868, John Henry (Jack) Yates, one of Antioch’s members, was ordained as a minister and became the church’s first pastor.  Responding to the growth of the membership in 1875, Yates led his congregation in constructing a new edifice.  A red brick church was designed by African American Richard Allen, a former member of the Texas Legislature, and became the first house of worship owned by African Americans in Houston.     
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Juneteenth

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
“Juneteenth” is the common Texan’s parlance for June 19, 1865, the day that Union General Gordon Granger issued General Order #3, at Galveston, Texas, setting free all remaining African American bondsmen held in Texas.  For many former bondsmen in Texas, northwestern Louisiana, and southwestern Arkansas, this date came to symbolize the day of the “Jubilo” for black people!  They had prayed, sung, and shouted and finally their day of liberation had come.

Freedmen in Texas immediately gave meaning to Gordon Granger’s words. Beginning in 1866, Juneteenth was welcomed in the black community with barbecues, dances, and parades.  During the 1960s and 1970s, the remembrance diminished because younger blacks thought the day was a reminder of enslavement and the denial of equal opportunities.  In June 1974, Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz issued a proclamation making June 19 “Emancipation Proclamation Day in Houston.”
Sources: 
Francis E. Abernathy, Patrick B. Mullen and Alan B. Govenar, eds., Juneteenth Texas: Essays In African-American Folklore (1996).  See also www.griotcalendar.org    
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

White, Lulu B.(1900-1957)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lulu Belle Madison White, civil rights activist in the 1940s and 1950s, devoted most of her adult life to the struggle against Jim Crow in Texas.  She campaigned for the right to vote, for equal pay for equal work, and for desegregation of public facilities.  

Born in 1900 in Elmo, Texas to Henry Madison, a farmer, and Easter Madison, a domestic worker, Lulu Belle Madison White received her early education in the public schools of Elmo and Terrell, Texas.  She graduated from Prairie View College where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1928. After marrying Julius White and teaching school for nine years, White resigned her post to devote full time service to the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its campaign to eliminate the state’s all-white Democratic primary.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, In Struggle against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP 1900-1957 (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Robert Lloyd Smith (1861-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Robert Lloyd Smith, politician and businessman, was born in 1861, to free black parents, one of whom was a schoolteacher.  Smith attended the public elementary schools in Charleston.  In 1875 he entered the University of South Carolina and remained there until 1877.  Leaving the University of South Carolina when it shut its doors to black students, Smith entered Atlanta University, where he graduated in 1880 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and mathematics.   Smith moved to Oakland, Colorado County, Texas, where he became principal of the Oakland Normal School.  Later, he became a member of the County Board of School Examiners.  In order to help blacks economically, Smith founded the Oakland Village Improvement Society and the Farmer's Improvement Society.  In 1895 he became involved in politics and ran successfully for the legislature in predominantly white Colorado County.
Sources: 
Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868-1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Texas Seminole Scouts

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Texas Seminole Scouts were descendants of runaway slaves who fled into Florida before the Civil War.  The offer of freedom by the Spanish greatly encouraged South Carolina and Georgia slaves to vote for freedom with their feet.  The blacks cooperated and joined the Seminoles and in some cases were “owned” as slaves by the Seminoles.  The Seminole blacks lived an essentially separate existence from the Seminole but did cooperate militarily for their mutual defense. Other Seminole blacks intermarried with the Seminole and served as advisors and interpreters.  Between 1838-1842, most of the Seminole and Seminole blacks left Florida for Indian Territory.  
Sources: 
Kevin Mulroy, Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, and Coahuila, and Texas (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1993).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Augusta State University

Brownsville Affray, 1906

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
In July 1906, the U.S. Army stationed three companies of the all-black Twenty-Fifth Infantry at Fort Brown, Texas, adjacent to Brownsville.  In recent years, southern Texas and the border region had seen periodic disturbances between American soldiers and local Chicanos who resented the military's presence.  Soon after their arrival, black soldiers began complaining of police harassment and civilian discrimination.

On the night of August 13, a group of unidentified men fired more than a hundred shots into private homes and businesses near the fort, killing a young bartender.  A well-organized citizens' group accused the black infantrymen, prompting a U.S. Inspector General's investigation directed by Major Augustus Penrose.  Penrose later concluded that a handful of soldiers had knowledge of the shooting, but the shooters' identities could not be discovered because the black troops refused to answer investigators' questions.  On November 6, claiming a "conspiracy of silence" to protect their guilty comrades, President Theodore Roosevelt announced the dishonorable discharges of 167 men in Companies B, C, and D.  To avoid further trouble with border residents, Fort Brown and neighboring Ringgold Barracks were closed in October.
Sources: 
James N. Leiker, Racial Borders: Black Soldiers along the Rio Grande (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2002).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Johnson County Community College, Kansas

Parsons, Lucy (1853-1942)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Although Lucy Parsons was one of the first and most important African American activists on the left, there is scanty historical documentation about her origins. It is believed that Lucy Parsons was born on a plantation in Hill County, Texas around March of 1853. Significantly there is evidence that indicates Parsons was born a slave. Her biographer argues that Lucy may have lived for a while with a former slave by the name of Oliver Gathing. Later she married Albert Parsons in 1871. Albert became a white radical Republican and Reconstructionist, after first serving as a Confederate soldier in his youth. Due to their political viewpoint and interracial marriage, Lucy and Albert were forced to migrate from Texas to Chicago in 1873.

Albert and Lucy Parsons arrived in Chicago during a period stamped by an economic crisis (the Depression of 1873) and intense labor unrest. Living among Chicago’s impoverished yet militant workers served as the catalyst for the Parsons' political transformation from radical Republicanism to participants in the radical labor movement. Their initial association with the political left was through the Social Democratic Party and the First International, founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It was through this contact that the Parsons became aware of the socialist ideology of Marxism. They later became members of the Chicago Chapter of the Workingmen's Party (WPUSA) and many of its meetings were held in the Parsons’ home.
Sources: 
John McClendon III, “Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) Anarchist, socialist, communist, journalist, poet” in Jessie Carnie Smith, ed., Notable Black American Women, Book II (New York: Gale Research, 1996) pp. 514-516; Carolyn Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons, American Revolutionary (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1976); Lucy Parsons, Famous Speeches of the Eight Chicago Anarchists (New York: Arno Press and New York Times, 1969); and “Lucy Parsons: Woman of Will” http://www.lucyparsons.org/biography-iww.php
Affiliation: 
Michigan State University

Johnson, Jack (1878-1946)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jack Johnson, the first African American and first Texan to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world, was born the second of six children to Henry and Tiny Johnson in Galveston on March 31, 1878.  His parents were former slaves.  To help support his family, Jack Johnson left school in the fifth grade to work on the dock in his port city hometown.  In the 1890s Johnson began boxing as a teenager in "battles royal" matches where white spectators watched black men fight and at the end of the contest tossed money at the winner.

Johnson turned professional in 1897 but four years later he was arrested and jailed because boxing was at that time a criminal sport in Texas.  After his release from jail he left Texas to pursue the title of “Negro” heavyweight boxing champion. Although he made a good living as a boxer, Johnson for six years sought a title fight with the white heavyweight champion, James J. Jeffries.  Jeffries denied Johnson and other African American boxers a shot at his title and he retired undefeated in 1904. 

Sources: 
Jack Johnson, Jack Johnson is a Dandy (New York: Chelsea House, 1969); Al-Tony Gilmore, "Bad Nigger!" The National Impact of Jack Johnson (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975); Thomas R. Hietala, The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2002); http://www.pbs.org/unforgivableblackness/about/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Nixon, Lawrence A. (1883-1966)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Dr. Lawrence Aaron Nixon was born in Marshall, Texas and graduated from Wiley College (l902) and Meharry Medical College (l906). He began his medical practice in Cameron, Texas but moved to El Paso in l909. In l9l0, he was joined in El Paso by his first wife Esther (nee Calvin) and their infant son. While practicing as a physician in El Paso, Dr. Nixon became a founder, organizer and member of Myrtle Avenue Methodist Church as well as a charter member of the El Paso branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A registered Democrat, Dr. Nixon challenged a 1923 state law that barred African Americans from participating in that party’s electoral primaries.

In Nixon v. Herndon in l927 and Nixon v. Condon in l932, the El Paso physician won two important United States Supreme Court rulings making unconstitutional the Democratic Party’s all white primaries. However, white state party leaders, through resistance and obfuscation, continued to prevent black Texans from participating in primary elections. Circumvention of the Court’s rulings continued until the decisive Smith v. Allwright case in l944 which effectively abolished the all-white primary. Dr. Nixon and his second wife, Drusilla Tandy (nee Porter) whom he married in l935, proudly voted that year.
Sources: 
Conrey Bryson, Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon and the White Primary (El Paso, Texas Western Press, l974); Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon Papers, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, University of Texas, Austin.
Affiliation: 
University of Texas at El Paso

Foreman, George (1949 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
George Edward Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas on January 10, 1949 and raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward.  He took up boxing in his teens while working in the Job Corps. A successful amateur career was capped with a gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Foreman turned professional in 1969 and quickly worked his way up the heavyweight ranks to earn a shot at the title against Joe Frazier. He captured the heavyweight crown with an impressive two round knockout of Frazier on January 22, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. Most knowledgeable boxing fans thought the intimidating fighter would hold the title for the next decade, but he lost the crown to Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974.

In 1977 Foreman lost for the second time, this time to Jimmy Young in a 12-round decision in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Following the fight Foreman became a born-again Christian and announced his retirement from boxing.  He returned to Houston where he opened a church and the George Foreman Youth Center. Ten years later, and running short on funds, 38-year old Foreman embarked upon a boxing comeback. Starting slowly, he gradually worked himself into contention for another shot at a title but fell short in his first attempt against Evander Holyfield, losing a 12-round decision in 1991. He received another opportunity two years later, but once again failed, losing to Tommy Morrison for the World Boxing Organization title.
Sources: 
George Foreman, By George: The Autobiography of George Foreman (Baltimore: Villard Books, 1995); George Foreman, George Foreman’s Knock-Out-The-Fat Barbeque and Grilling Cookbook (Baltimore: Villard Books, 1996); www.ibhof.com/foreman.htm; www.boxrec.com.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Granville, Evelyn Boyd (1924- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Evelyn Boyd was born in Washington, D.C. on May 1st, 1929, the second daughter of William and Julia Boyd.  Though she was raised by a single working class mother and attended segregated schools, Boyd became the second black woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics.  She credits the quality and dedication of the teachers at Dunbar High School who nurtured her interest in mathematics and science and prepared her for advanced study.  Boyd graduated as valedictorian and, with the help of her aunt and a scholarship, she enrolled in Smith College in 1941.  

At Smith, Boyd was one of a handful of black women on campus, though she claims not to have felt disadvantaged by her minority status.  She majored in mathematics but studied theoretical physics and astronomy as well.  In 1945, she graduated with academic honors, a summa cum laude designation, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Evelyn Boyd earned scholarships from Smith and Yale that allowed her to continue her graduate studies the next fall.  At Yale, she studied with Dr. Einar Hille and earned her Ph.D. in the field of functional analysis in 1949.
Sources: 
Diann Jordan, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006);  Evelyn Boyd Granville, "My Life as a Mathematician," Sage: A Scholarly Journal of Black Women 6:2 (1989). Retrieved from http://www.agnesscott.edu/LRIDDLE/WOMEN/granvill.htm.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Lee P. (1937- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Lee Patrick Brown, known as “The Father of Community Policing,” also became the first African American Mayor of Houston, Texas in 1997.

Brown was born to sharecropper parents Andrew and Zelma Brown in the town of Wewoka, Oklahoma in 1937.  He received a B.A. in criminology from Fresno State University in 1960 and four years later earned an M.A. from San Jose State University in the same field.  In 1970 he received a Ph.D. in criminology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Brown began working as a patrol officer for the San Jose Police Department during his college years. Then in 1968, he took a teaching post at Portland State University in Oregon.  In 1972 Brown was appointed associate director of the Institute for Urban Affairs and Research at Howard University, a job he held until 1975.  Brown returned to Oregon and became a deputy sheriff for Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon for two years.  By 1976 he was named the Director of the Multnomah County Department of Justice.
Sources: 
Alston Hornsby Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-Book Time LLC, 2006); Charles M. Christian, Black Saga: The African American Experience (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995); http://www.thehistorymakers.com
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brewer, John Mason (1896-1975)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Goliad, Texas on March 24, 1896, John Mason Brewer became one of the twentieth century’s premier African American folklorists. A poet, essayist, historian, and anthologist, Brewer earned an undergraduate degree from Wiley College in 1917 and later a graduate degree from Indiana University.  Over his career he taught on both the high school and college levels.   

Brewer worked at Samuel Huston College in Austin from 1926 to 1933 when he left to pursue additional studies and career options. He returned in 1944 to teach at Huston-Tillotson College (previously Samuel Huston College) until 1959 when he went to Livingston College in North Carolina. Brewer moved back to Texas ten years later (1969) and taught at East Texas State University until his death in 1975.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Glasrud, “From Griggs to Brewer: A Review of Black Texas Culture, 1899-1940,” Journal of Big Bend Studies 15 (2003): 195-212; James W. Byrd, J. Mason Brewer: Negro Folklorist (Austin: Steck-Vaughn Company, 1967); Kenneth W. Turner, “Negro Collectors of Negro Folklore: A Study of J. Mason Brewer and Zora Neale Hurston (Master’s thesis, East Texas State University, 1964).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Yates, John Henry "Jack" (1828-1897)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
John Henry "Jack" Yates, minister and educator, was born a slave to Robert and Rachael Yates in Gloucester County, Virginia, on July 11, 1828. As a slave, Yates learned to read and write, and acquired the skills of carpentry. During his bondage, he married Harriet Willis of a neighboring plantation and together they had eleven children. Unable to stand the pain of being separated from his family, when Harriet's master moved to Matagorda County, Texas, Jack Yates begged to go along and was granted permission.

When African American enslaved people were set free on June 19, 1865, The Yates family moved to Houston where he became drayman and Baptist preacher. As a minister, Yates did missionary work among the freedmen and women who were rapidly moving into Houston immediately after the Civil War. When the first black Baptist church (Antioch Missionary Baptist Church) was organized in Houston in January, 1866, he became its founding pastor. By 1875, the Antioch congregation, almost all of whom were former slaves, had erected a brick church edifice. With Yates at the helm of Antioch, the church had become influential in the political, social and cultural life of black Houston.

Sources: 
Rutherford B. H. Yates, Sr., and Paul L. Yates, The Life and Effort of Jack Yates (Houston:  Texas Southern University Press, 1985).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Nabrit, Samuel Milton (1905-2003)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

A marine biologist, academic, and administrator, Samuel Milton Nabrit was born in Macon, Georgia, to James Madison Nabrit and Gertrude West in 1905.  Upon completing his elementary and high school education, he entered Morehouse College in 1921.  There he earned the B.S. degree in Biology in May 1925 and spent the summer teaching at his alma mater.  His stay at Morehouse was short lived because in September, 1925, he entered the University of Chicago where he pursued a master’s degree.  Five years after completing his M.A. in 1927, Nabrit became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences when he graduated from Brown University in 1932.

Sources: 
Samuel M. Nabrit Files, Heartman Collection, Texas Southern University.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Kinchlow, Ben (1846?-1939?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Ben Kinchlow began life as a free black in Texas, when most African Americans were slaves. After the Texas Revolution, the new Republic legalized slavery and free African Americans were at risk of being sold back into slavery. Ben’s mother, Lizaar Moore, a half-white slave woman obtained her freedom from Sandy Moore, in Wharton County and in 1847 with one year old Ben and her other son journeyed to Mexico.

The family settled in the border area of Matamoros where Lizaar worked washing clothes, charging $2.50 a dozen for men’s clothing and $5.00 for women’s. Young Ben learned to ride and break horses and stayed in Mexico about twelve years before moving to Brownsville, where he lived until emancipation.

Working on the Bare Stone Ranch, Kinchlow became acquainted with Captain Leander McNelly and, at nineteen became a guide for McNelly working without pay. So began the Texas Ranger life of the earliest known African American with the Special Force or McNelly’s Rangers. When McNelly died Kinchlow returned to working cattle and breaking horses. He worked on the Banqueta Ranch as well as the King Ranch with horse breaking his main responsibility. Then he moved onto Matagorda County where worked as a cowhand on the Tres Palacios Ranch. He worked for twelve years getting fifty cents a head for every Maverick he roped and branded.

Sources: 
John H. Fuller, “Ben Kinchlow: A Trail Driver on the Chisholm Trail,” Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 99-116.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Peyton Colony, Texas (estab. 1865)

Vignette Type: 
Places
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Peyton Colony's Mt. Horeb Baptist Church 
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Peyton Colony was a freedmen’s community established in 1865 by Peyton Roberts (c.1820-1888), an ex-slave who migrated to Caldwell County, Texas. Roberts was born enslaved on the William Roberts Plantation in Virginia.  Roberts and several families on the Roberts Plantation gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War. 

In late 1865, Peyton Roberts led these families to the Texas hill country eight miles southeast of the present-day town of Blanco. They homesteaded public land and built cabins on their new properties.  Their small community, along Boardhouse Creek, became known as the Peyton Colony.

In 1874, Rev. Jack Burch, a freedman, from Tennessee, arrived in the Colony and pitched a tent for the first meeting of the Mt. Horeb Baptist Church. Jim Upshear, one of the colonists, donated land for a permanent site and the settlers built a log church, which also served as a community school.  Part of the Colony site, now a state park, includes a cemetery with 176 graves, including Peyton Roberts and many of the original settlers.

Sources: 

Thad Sitton and James H. Conrad, Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow, Austin, TX.: University of Texas Press, 2005; Wanda Qualls, “Peyton Cemetery – Black, Blanco County, Texas,” 2002, http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/tx/blanco/cemetery/peyton.txt (accessed April, 16, 2007); Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Peyton, Texas,” http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/PP/hrp77.html (accessed Aril 16, 2007).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Wiley College (1873- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, is the first African-American college established in the Lone Star State.  The institution was founded in 1873 by Bishop Isaac Wiley of Methodist Episcopal Church and chartered by the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1882. Isaac Wiley grew up with dreams of becoming a minister but instead turned to medicine. In 1850 he was given the opportunity to go to China on a medical missionary trip. Following his return to the United States he entered the ministry and rose through the ranks before becoming a Bishop in 1872. In 1873 he founded Wiley College.  The college is now affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is dedicated to the idea of social responsibility and seeks to contribute and revitalize the community, which it serves.

Wiley College was established to provide an education to newly freed men and women and to prepare them for a new life. It was also established to train teachers for careers at black elementary and secondary schools in Texas and other states and territories.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 1998); Wiley College Website, http://www.wileyc.edu/ ; James Farmer Biography, http://www.umw.edu/cas/jfscholars/who/default.php ; Isaac Wiley Biography, http://www.famousamericans.net/isaacwilliamwiley/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paul Quinn College (1872- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Paul Quinn College, Waco, Texas, ca. 1900
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Quinn College, founded by members of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Austin, Texas in 1872, is the oldest African-American liberal arts college in the state and one of the oldest west of the Mississippi River.  The institution was named for Bishop Paul Quinn who presided over the AME Church in the western states for nearly 30 years.

Paul Quinn College was established to provide an education to newly free African American men and women.   They were taught carpentry, tanning, blacksmithing, and other skills.  The college also offered a curriculum which included Music, Math, Theology and Latin.
Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: 1998); Paul Quinn College website, http://www.pqc.edu/history.htm .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jefferson, Blind Lemon (c. 1890-1929)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Blind Lemon Jefferson was born in Couchman, Texas, sometime around the 1890s although the exact date is not known and several are claimed. He was the youngest of seven children and the only one of them born blind. The details of his birth and young life are not well known, nor are the reason that he first began to play guitar and sing, but his influence on the development of blues is well known. He gained the respect of his peers with what were termed inimitable skills, and left traces of his musical characteristics in most of the blues that came after him.

Even though he started out playing on street corners near his hometown, by 1917 Lemon was living in Dallas and was already well known and admired by his peers. He began traveling by train to surrounding areas and journeyed extensively, where he met other blues greats such as: Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), Robert Wilkins and Son House. It was widely thought that he played in every Southern state at one time or another and several artists recount stories of playing with him multiple times. Lemon was a firm businessman, playing only for money, with a reputation for stopping as soon as it did.
Sources: 
Keith Shadwick, The Encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Quintet Publishing, 2001); http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9043478/Blind-Lemon-Jefferson
http://www.sfu.ca/~hayward/van/glossary/lemon.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Coleman, Ornette (1930- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
It may be impossible today to understand fully the shock and outrage which alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's 1959 arrival in New York caused within the jazz community.  Coleman's innovations freed his quartet from traditional structures of form, chordal harmony, tonality, and rhythm, and though his work has sharply divided opinion, he is widely acknowledged as having transformed the way in which jazz is heard and performed.

Born in 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas, Coleman began playing tenor saxophone in rhythm and blues (R&B) bands, his own style rooted in the bebop idiom.  Though undocumented, his early development suggests something unique – Coleman was assaulted and his tenor saxophone destroyed after a particularly off-putting dance solo in Baton Rouge.  In 1949 Coleman settled in Los Angeles where he worked as an elevator operator and independently studied music theory.  On the alto saxophone, which remains his primary voice, Coleman developed a plaintively raw and vocalized tone, exploring micro-tonalities and speech-like cries.  In Los Angeles Coleman befriended drummers Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins, as well as trumpeter Don Cherry, all of whom would later become mainstays in Coleman’s ground-breaking Atlantic quartets.  In 1958 Coleman found a willing partner in pianist Paul Bley, and with Higgins, Cherry, and bassist Charlie Haden the quintet recorded a live performance at the Hillcrest Club, The Fabulous Paul Bley Quintet.  
Sources: 
Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life (London: Serpent's Tail, 1992); Peter Niklas Wilson, Ornette Coleman: His Life and Music (Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1999); Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Eighth Edition) (London: Penguin Books, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Brown, Willie Lewis, Jr. (1934- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of The Nob Hill Association
This State Legislator and Mayor was born in Mineola, Texas, to Willie L. Brown, Sr., and Minnie (Boyd) Lewis on March 20, 1934. After migrating to San Francisco, California, in 1951, Brown worked as a janitor in order to subsidize his education at San Francisco State University. Upon his arrival in San Francisco, Brown immediately joined the United Methodist Church, which was committed to social action, where he became the youth leader. In his attempts to make the world and himself more “comfortable,” he also participated in the San Francisco civil rights protests in the late 1950s. He earned his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1955. In 1958, he earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Hastings College Law School.

In the 1950s Brown’s prospects seemed bleak. Most San Francisco law firms barred black attorneys from employment. In addition, Hastings Law School alumni were not heavily recruited because of Bay Area law firms’ preference for Stanford and University of California-Berkeley graduates. In 1959 Brown began his own practice, Brown, Dearman & Smith, after working for a time with prominent San Francisco black attorney Terry Francois. Brown’s new firm specialized in criminal defense, real estate development, and personal injury cases.
Sources: 
Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby-Gutting, From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery: E-BookTime LLC, 2006).
Affiliation: 
University of Mississippi

Factor, Pompey (1849–1928)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Pompey Factor, former slave, scout for the United States Army and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, was born in Arkansas in 1849 to Hardy Factor, a black Seminole chief and an unknown Biloxi Indian woman.

By the end of that 2nd Seminole War (1835-1842), most of the Seminole Indians and runaway slaves were captured and removed to the Indian Territory. The fear of enslavement drove many black Seminole to Mexico in the 1850s. Factor’s family was among those who emigrated.
On August 16, 1870, Factor enlisted in the Army and was assigned the rank of private with the Detachment of Seminole Negro Indian Scouts who worked with the Twenty-fourth Infantry, an all-black regiment. As a scout, he performed reconnaissance duties in Texas for the Army, tracking the movements of Comanches, Apaches, Kiowa and other Native Americans who refused to go to reservations.

Sources: 
Katz, William Loren, Black People Who Made the Old West, (Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 1992); The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture www.encyclopediaofarskansas.net/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Black Genealogy Research Group

Washington, Craig Anthony (1941 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of
Representative Craig Anthony Washington's Office
Craig Anthony Washington, former Congressman from Houston, Texas, was born in Longview, Gregg County, Texas on October 12, 1941 to Roy and Azalia Washington. He attended Prairie View A & M University in Texas and received his B.A. in 1966. In 1969 he graduated from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Washington commenced practice as a criminal defense lawyer and is a partner in a Houston law firm.

Soon after embarking on his private career, Washington entered politics and was elected a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He and George Thomas “Mickey” Leland served together as freshmen members of the Texas legislature in 1973-1975.  Leland in 1978 would be elected to represent Texas’s 18th Congressional District, succeeding retiring Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.  Washington continued to serve in the Texas House of Representatives until election to the state Senate in 1983, where he served for the next 6 years. As a member of the state legislature, he served as chairman of the House committees on criminal jurisprudence, social services and human services and as chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Sources: 
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990; www.bioguide.congress.gov
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Paige, Roderick Raynor (1933- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Roderick Raynor Paige, the first African American and the first school superintendent to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education, was born on June 17, 1933 in Monticello, Mississippi. The eldest of five children, Paige was born to his mother Sophie, a librarian, and father, Raynor C. Paige, a school principal and barber.

Roderick Paige attended segregated schools in Monticello where he saw the stark differences between the education and opportunities offered to white children and black children.  In 1951, Paige graduated from high school and enrolled at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi. He was an honor student and football player there. In 1955, after he graduated with a B.A. in physical education, Paige began teaching at a high school in Clinton, Mississippi. However, not long after he started, he was drafted and joined the U.S. Navy. Before he left for Okinawa to work as a medical corpsman, Paige married his college sweetheart, Gloria Crawford.

Upon his return, Paige served as football coach at Jackson State University. Realizing his true aspirations were in education though, he enrolled at Indiana University to attend graduate school. (No graduate schools in Mississippi accepted African Americans as students.) Overcoming the hardships caused by academic deficiencies in public schooling, Paige earned an M.A. in 1962, and then a doctorate in physical education in 1970.
Sources: 
Roderick Paige, The War Against Hope: How Teachers’ Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006); Donald R. McAdams, Fighting to Save Our Urban Schools—and Winning!: Lessons from Houston. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2000).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Smokey Joe (1886-1946)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born Joseph Williams in Sequin, Texas on April 6, 1886, Smokey Joe Williams (also known as Cyclone Joe Williams) has been argued to be one of the greatest of the black baseball pitchers. In 1952, when the Pittsburgh Courier asked a panel of black veterans and sports writers to name the best black pitcher of all time, Smokey Joe Williams was the winner 20-19, over Satchel Paige. He stood 6’ 5” with a variety of power pitches but was best known for his fastball. He began to pitch around the San Antonio region in 1905 and compiled a record of 28-4. In 1907, he played for the San Antonio Broncos as a pitcher-outfielder, winning 20 and losing 8. In 1909, when Rube Foster, “The Father of Black Baseball,” brought his Leland Giants through San Antonio, he saw Williams pitch against Foster’s team and was amazed at his arresting speed, Williams and his team beat the Giants 3-0. When the Giants left, they took Williams north with them.

On October 24, 1912, Williams faced the National League champion New York Giants in an exhibition game. The Giants were coming off from a World Series loss against the Boston Red Sox. Williams shut out the Giants with only four hits for a 6-0 victory. By 1913, Williams won four and lost one against the white big leaguers.  At a time when professional baseball was not integrated and black teams were considered semi-pro, the victory over the Giants gave Williams and his team considerable national exposure.
Sources: 
John B. Holway, Negro League Pioneers (Connecticut: Meckler Books, 1988); Robert Peterson, Only the Ball was White (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970); Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Beaumont Race Riot, 1943

Vignette Type: 
Events
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Shipyard Warkers, Beaumont, Texas, ca. 1943
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Beaumont Race Riot of 1943 was sparked by racial tensions that arose in this Texas shipbuilding center during World War II.  The sudden influx of African American workers in industrial jobs in the Beaumont shipyard and the subsequent job competition with white workers forced race relations to a boiling point.

The riot itself exploded on June 15, 1943 with most of the violence ending a day later.  White workers at the Pennsylvania Shipyard located in Beaumont, Texas confronted black workers after hearing that a local white woman had accused a black man of raping her.  The woman who made the accusation was later unable to identify her attacker from the number of black inmates held at the city jail.

Nonetheless, on the evening of June 15, about 2,000 shipyard workers and an additional 1,000 bystanders marched on City Hall when they learned that a suspect had been jailed.  The number of people eventually reached 4,000 as the mob approached City Hall.  Once there, the mob splintered into smaller groups and began to break into stores and destroy property located in the black neighborhoods near downtown Beaumont.  Black citizens were assaulted while whites looted and burned black stores and restaurants.  More than 100 homes of black Beaumont residents were ransacked.

Sources: 
James S. Olson, “Beaumont Riot of 1943,” The Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/BB/jcb1.html (accessed 11 June, 2008); Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins, The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century (Joshua Tree: Progressive Press, 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Sweatt, Heman Marion (1912-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Heman Sweatt in Law School Registration Line,
University of Texas, Sept. 19, 1950.
Image courtesy of the Center for American History,
The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Student Media,
The Daily Texan. Prints and Photographs Collection,
CN 00323a.

Heman Marion Sweatt was a postal worker from Houston, Texas, who in 1950 integrated the University of Texas Law School.  Sweatt was born on December 11, 1912 in Houston, Texas.  He was the fourth child of James Leonard and Ella Rose Sweatt.  In 1930, he graduated from Jack Yates High School and earned a degree from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas in 1934. Soon after, Sweatt returned to Houston and worked as a mailman.  

Sources: 

Michael L. Gillette, Michael L., "Heman Marion Sweatt: Civil Rights Plaintiff," in Alwyn Barr and Robert Calvert ed. Black Leaders: Texans for Their Times. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1981); http://txtell.lib.utexas.edu/stories/s0010-full.html.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Williams, Lacey Kirk (1871-1940)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lacey Kirk Williams was the President of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., from 1922 to 1940 and Vice President of the World Baptist Alliance between 1928 and 1940.  He also succeeded in creating an interracial alliance which he called a "cooperative" between the wealthy American Baptists, a white denomination, and the National Baptist Convention which greatly contributed to the latter's growth and the black community as a whole.  Williams was President of the National Baptist Convention when he died in a plane crash in 1940 on his way to deliver a speech in Flint, Michigan.

Williams was born to a former slave couple, Levi and Elizabeth Williams, on the Shorter Plantation near Eufaula, Alabama.  His family migrated to Texas in 1878.  He received his education at Bishop College in Texas and Arkansas Baptist College and was ordained to ministry in 1894 at the Thankful Baptist Church in Pitt Bridge, Texas. The same year he was married to Georgia Lewis and they had one son together.  Williams became the pastor of the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Ft. Worth in 1910 and soon afterwards was elected president of the Texas Baptist State Convention.  

Sources: 

J. Gordon Melton, Religious Leaders of America: A Biographical Guide to
Founders and Leaders of Religious Bodies, Churches, and Spiritual
Groups in North America
(Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991);   
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwiag.html.                                                                                    

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Kirk, Ronald (1954-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Ronald "Ron" Kirk is the U.S. Trade Representative for U.S. President Barack Obama.  Kirk was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 18, 2009, and officially sworn in two days later.  Kirk is the 16th trade representative and the first African American to hold the Cabinet-level post.  As trade representative, he serves as the president's principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson.  He is also responsible for the development of U.S. trade policy and the oversight of existing trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Kirk was born in 1954 in Austin, Texas.  He received a BA degree in political science and sociology from Austin College in 1976 and then went on to the University of Texas Law School where he received a J.D. three years later. While attending law school, he accepted an internship with the Texas Legislature.  After graduating, Kirk worked for Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas as an aide and later was appointed Texas Secretary of State by Texas Governor Ann Richards, also a Democrat.

In 1995, Kirk, in his first bid for public office and with major support from the local business community, ran for mayor of Dallas, Texas.  He won a landslide victory, securing 62% of the vote to become mayor.  During his mayoral campaign, Kirk promoted racial harmony in a city that had experienced considerable racial tension.
Sources: 
“United States Representative Ron Kirk,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/biographies-key-officials/united-states-trade-representative-ron-kirk; Alston Hornsby Jr., and Angela M. Hornsby, From the Grassroots (Montgomery, AL: E-Book Time LLC, 2006).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Jackson, Alphonso R. (1946- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Alphonso R. Jackson cultivated a three-decade career in public service that included an appointment as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the administration of his long-time friend, President George W. Bush.  Born in Marshall, Texas, in 1946, Jackson grew up in South Dallas, the youngest of twelve children in a working-class family.  He earned a B.A. in political science (1968) and a M.Ed. (1969) from Northeast Missouri State University.  He then studied at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received a J.D. in 1972.  

Sources: 
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 48, “Alphonso R. Jackson” (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2005); “The Honorable Alphonso Jackson Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2008) http://www.hud.gov/about/secretary/jacksonbio.cfm; Rachel L. Swarns, “Top U.S. Housing Official Resigns,” The New York Times (March 31, 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/washington/31cnd-jackson.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Johnson, Eddie Bernice (1935- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

An early career in health care led to political aspirations for Eddie Bernice Johnson, culminating in her current position representing Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She is an advocate for women, children, and human rights.

Born in Waco, Texas, in 1935 to parents Lee Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae (White) Johnson, Bernice Johnson traveled to Indiana to attend college when there were no educational opportunities for her as a black woman in Texas.  She earned a diploma in nursing from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame in 1955.  One year later she married Lacey Kirk Johnson.  The couple had one son, Kirk, and then divorced in 1970.  Bernice Johnson continued her education.  She later received a BS in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967 and a MS in public administration in 1976 from Southern Methodist University.

Johnson was the chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital until 1972 when she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, the first African American woman ever elected to public office from Dallas.  She also became the first woman in Texas history to lead a major Texas House committee when she chaired the Labor Committee.  Five years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to be the regional director for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  When Carter left office in 1980, Johnson entered the private sector as a business development consultant in Dallas.

Sources: 
"Eddie Bernice Johnson" in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1907 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008); L. Mpho Mabunda, ed., Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 8, “Eddie Bernice Johnson,” (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1995); “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas,” http://ebjohnson.house.gov/index.html.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Ousley, "King" Curtis (1934–1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

King Curtis was a famous tenor sax player during the 1950s and 1960s and was known for his signature honking sound.  Born in Fort Worth, Texas on February 7, 1934, with the birth name Curtis Ousley, King Curtis got his musical education in the public schools of his hometown.  Curtis started out on alto sax at the age of 12 and then switched to tenor at 13.  After graduating from high school, he began touring with Lionel Hampton’s jazz band.  In 1952, Curtis moved to New York and began to venture out from jazz to a rising musical genre called rock and roll. 

King Curtis by the late-1950s was a well-known session musician working with numerous rock and roll and rhythm and blues artists including Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke, Buddy Holly, and Wilson Pickett.  He’s also remembered for his solo on the Coasters’ hit with “Yakety Yak” in 1958.   Over his playing career as a session musician, it is estimated that King Curtis performed with over 125 jazz, pop, R&B, and rock and roll artists.

Sources: 
Murray Schumach, “King Curtis, the Bandleader, Is Stabbed to Death,” New York Times (August 15, 1971); Arnold Shaw, Honkers and Shouters : the Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues (New York: Macmillan Pub Co, 1986); Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African American Musicians (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983);  http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/king-curtis (Accessed November 7, 2009)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Texas College (1894-- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Bishop Joseph C. Martin Hall, Texas College
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Texas College is a historically black College (HBCU), located in Tyler, Texas.  The college was originally proposed by several ministers within the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church.  The Church founded the college, the third all-black institution in the state, on roughly 25 acres of land near Tyler in 1894.  

In 1909, Texas College briefly changed its name to Phillips University to recognize the work of the CME Bishop Henry Phillips but opposition forced the named to be changed back to its original title in 1912.  In 1924, Texas College was accredited as a two-year facility and in 1932, the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary schools allowed the institution to award baccalaureate degrees.  

Texas College has been associated with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) since the fund's inception in 1944.  That affiliation provides scholarships and grants for students who lack funding to attend a secondary establishment.  The school has also recently worked toward increasing its attendance of black males by providing more grants.  
Sources: 
Denis B Hawkins, “Doing more with less,” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 21:9 (June 2004); Denise B Hawkins “A Rich History,” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 24:13 (August 2007); www.texascollegeonline.net; Michael R Heintze, “Black Colleges” www.tshaonline.org; www.petersons.com/blackcolleges/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Democratic Progressive Voters League (1936- )

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Dallas Central Track Slum, 1926
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Organized in 1936 in Dallas, Texas, The Democratic Progressive Voters League is one of the oldest political organizations for African Americans in the state.  It developed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with the goal of ensuring the rights of African Americans around the state to vote and participate in local politics.  At this time, white violence and legal obstacles such as the poll tax and white-only primaries barred the vast majority of black Texans from exercising their political rights.

Beginning in 1934, Dallas black political leaders Antonio Maceo Smith, who was the General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the first executive secretary of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce (1933), and Maynard Jackson, Sr. (father of Maynard Jackson, Jr., the first African American Mayor of Atlanta) formed the Progressive Voters League (PVL).  The organization adopted a strategy of increasing the political power of the African American community in Dallas by paying poll taxes for black voters who could not afford to do so.  The strategy paid off the following year (1935) when the organization's president, Ammon S. Wells, placed sixth among 60 candidates in a contest for a state legislative seat.  Wells was defeated in the run-off election but his candidacy proved the PVL would be a political force in Dallas elections.
Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979); Donald Strong, “The Rise of the Negro,” The American Political Science Review, 42:3 (June 1948), pp. 510-522; The Handbook of Texas Online, Website: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/DD/wed1.html
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Texas Southern University (1947- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Texas Southern University, a state-supported institution of higher learning located just southeast of downtown Houston, was established on March 3, 1947 when the Fiftieth Texas State Legislature passed a bill establishing a " Negro University with a law school to be located in Houston." This bill grew out of demands by African Americans for graduate and professional training in the state of Texas, and because of  a lawsuit filed by a black Houston mail carrier, Heman Marion Sweatt, to desegregate the University of Texas Law School. 

Sources: 
Ira B. Bryant, Texas Southern University:  Its Antecedents, Political Origins, and Future (Houston:  Armstrong, 1975); John S. Lash, Hortense W. Dixon, and Thomas F. Freeman, Texas Southern University:  From Separation to Special Designation (Houston:  Texas Southern University, 1975); Howard Beeth and Cary D. Wintz, eds., Black Dixie:  Afro-Texas History and Culture in Houston (College Station:  Texas A&M University Press, 1992); Merline Pitre, In Struggle Against Jim Crow:  Lulu B. White and the NAACP, 1900-1957 (Texas A&M University Press, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Texas Southern University

Jarvis Christian College (1912- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Founded in 1912 near Hawkins, Texas, the Jarvis Christian Institute (renamed Jarvis Christian College in 1927), owed its existence to both the philanthropy of white Disciples of Christ and to the initiative of African American Disciples of Christ. On the one hand, J. J. Jarvis and his wife, Ida Van Zandt Jarvis, felt morally and divinely obligated to lift up formerly enslaved Africans in the Lone Star State. Mr. Jarvis, prodded by his wife, graciously gave 418 acres of land near Hawkins to establish the school that bears their name.
Sources: 
Lawrence A. Q. Burnley, The Cost of Unity: African-American Agency and Education in the Christian Church, 1865-1914 (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2008); Edward J. Robinson, The Fight Is on in Texas: A History of African American Churches of Christ, 1865-2000 (Abilene, Texas: Abilene Christian University Press, 2008); www.jarvis.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Abilene Christian University

Southwestern Christian College (1948- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Doris Johnson Library at Southwestern Christian College
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Southwestern Christian College, a junior college with a four year Bible degree program, was largely the brainchild of George P. Bowser (1874-1950), an influential African American preacher in Churches of Christ. A former Methodist minister, Bowser received biblical and ministerial training at Walden College in Nashville, Tennessee. He brought his deep thirst for knowledge over into Churches of Christ by establishing a journal, Christian Echo (1902-present), and by founding educational institutions. From 1907 to 1914, Bowser led the Silver Point Christian Institute in Silver Point, Tennessee. In 1938, Bowser then launched the Bowser Christian Institute in Fort Smith, Arkansas, before its collapse in 1946.

Sources: 
R. Vernon Boyd, Undying Dedication: The Story of G. P. Bowser (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1985); Jack Evans, "The History of Southwestern Christian College, Terrell, Texas" (Masters Thesis, University of Texas, El Paso, 1963); Edward J. Robinson, The Fight is on in Texas: A History of African American Churches of Christ in the Lone Star State, 1865-2000 (Abilene, Texas: Abilene Christian University Press, 2008), www.swcc.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Abilene Christian University

Huston-Tillotson University (1881- )

Vignette Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The collaboration of diligent black people and concerned white philanthropists from the North was the impetus behind the formation of what is now Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Chartered in 1877 and opened in 1881 under the name of Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute by the American Missionary Association in Austin, Texas, Huston-Tillotson University was among the earliest all-black private colleges established in the Lone Star State. Today Huston-Tillotson University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

In the 1870s George Jeffrey Tillotson, a Congregational minister from Connecticut, traveled to the Southwest in search of land to establish a school for African Americans. After finding several acres of land in Austin, Tillotson succeeded in raising $16,000.00 for an educational enterprise. While Tillotson was busy garnering funds for the project that bore his name, Samuel Huston, a wealthy landowner from Marengo, Iowa, contributed $9,000.00 to establish a co-educational school for African Americans in the same city. Originally known as the West Texas Conference School, the school's name was changed to Samuel Huston College 1890 and opened its doors in 1900.

Sources: 
Michael Robert Heintze, "A History of the Black Private Colleges in Texas, 1865-1954" (Ph. D. dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1981); Lawrence D. Rice, The Negro in Texas, 1874-1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971); www.htu.edu.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Abilene Christian University

Perry, Jim (1858–1918)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jim Perry was an African American cowboy and top hand, the highest-ranked cowboy, on the three million-acre XIT Ranch near Dalhart, Texas. Perry established himself as an expert roper, rider, bronc buster, cook and musician.

Perry was born on February 2, 1858, in Texas. Very little is known about his early life. Since his teens in the 1870s he worked for the Horse Shoe T Cross Ranch before joining the XIT, which was up and running by 1885. Perry helped string over seven hundred miles of barbed wire fencing along the entire XIT Ranch property by 1887 making it the largest fenced ranch in the world.  

Jim Perry was regarded as such an accomplished steer roper. In his later years Perry was revered for his culinary skills as a ranch house and chuck wagon cook for the XIT. He was also quite renowned as a top fiddler, which added to his likeability for he was loved and revered by his peers.

Perry remained a loyal employee of the XIT Ranch for two decades despite the fact that his race precluded him from becoming of one of the ranch’s foremen, a position for which he was well qualified. On September 29, 1908 he married Emma Beaseley. The couple had no children.  In 1918 Jim Perry died in Oldham County, Texas from a brain tumor.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2011); Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000); Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Willis, Charley (1847–1930)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Charley and Laura Willis
Image Ownership: Public Domain

African American cowboy Charley Willis was recognized as a singing cowboy who authored the popular trail song, “Goodbye Old Paint.” Willis was a skilled cowhand who not only sang songs from the trail but who contributed to preserving authentic cowboy music from the era.

Charley Willis was born in 1847 in Milam County, outside of Austin, Texas. Freed after the Civil War he headed to West Texas at age eighteen and found work breaking wild horses at the Morris Ranch in Bartlett, Texas. In 1871, at age twenty-four, he rode the Chisholm Trail one thousand miles north into Wyoming Territory as a drover. Charley was musically knowledgeable and talented. He became known for the songs he brought back from the trail.

In 1885 Willis taught his favorite song, “Good-bye Old Paint,” to Morris’s seven-year-old son, Jess.  As an adult Jess Morris became known as a talented fiddler, and though credited with authoring “Good-bye Old Paint,” he was quick to clarify that had he learned the song from Charley Willis as a child. In 1947 John Lomax, a pioneering musicologist and folklorist, recorded Morris singing and playing Willis’ song, “Good-bye Old Paint,” and later sent it to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress where it is preserved.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2011); Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000); Jim Bob Tinsley, He Was Singin’ This Song: A Collection of Forty-Eight Traditional Songs of the American Cowboy, with Words, Music, Pictures, and Stories (Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida, 1982).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Lemmons, Robert (1848–1947)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Texas cowboy Robert Lemmons was one of the greatest mustangers of all time. He became a legend in his day by perfecting his unique method of catching wild mustang horses.

Robert Lemmons was born a slave in Lockport, Caldwell County, Texas in 1848. He moved to Dimmit County, Texas; then a sparsely uninhabited land overrun by wild horses. Lemmons gained his freedom at the end of the Civil War at age seventeen. He found employment with Duncan Lammons, a man who taught him about horses and gave Robert the surname “Lemmons,” (a variant spelling that evolved over the years). Robert Lemmons farmed, hauled supplies, and went on cattle drives for Duncan Lammons.

No other cowboy equaled Lemmons in capturing mustangs, which were in high demand for roundups during the cattle drive era of the 1870s and 1880s. Lemmons usually worked alone totally isolating himself from humans to gain a mustang herd's trust and thereby infiltrate the heard.  He then uprooted the herd hierarchy by mounting the lead stallion and then taking control of the herd, which followed him into a pen on a nearby ranch.

Sources: 
Tricia Martineau Wagner, Black Cowboys of the Old West (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot press, 2011); Florence Fenley, Oldtimers: Frontier Days in the Uvalde Section of Southwest Texas (Uvalde, TX: Hornby, 1939); J. Frank Dobie, The Mustangs (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1934).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Rice, C.W. (1897- ? )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
C.W. Rice was a political activist and labor leader in Houston, Texas from the 1920s through the 1940s.  He was the owner of Negro Labor News, president of the Texas Negro Business Association, and advocate of Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee philosophy of self help.

Rice was born in 1897 to Mary and Ezekiel Rice in Haywood County, Tennessee. Formally educated in the rural schools of Haywood County, in 1909 he moved to the city of  Jackson, Tennessee and worked as a domestic servant while enrolled in the Lane College high school department.

Rice then moved to Houston, Texas, and by 1914 was giving lectures to local blacks about their patriotic duty to support the United States if it entered World War I.  Rice's patriotic fervor lessened however after touring the Deep South and witnessing firsthand the racial discrimination African Americans faced.  He then began his quest to eliminate discrimination and racism.

While in Houston, Rice became an entrepreneur, using his position to rally local blacks into challenging discrimination and focusing attention on the unfair treatment of the region’s black workforce. He stirred controversy within the black and white Houston communities in his encouragement for blacks to “organize in a solid bloc” and use racial solidarity as an effective weapon to challenge their plight.
Sources: 
Ernest Obadele-Starks, Black Unionism in the Industrial South (College Station, TX: TAMU Publishing, 2001); Ernest Obadele-Starks, “Black Workers, the Black Middle Class, and Organized Protest along the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, 1883-1945,” in The African American Experience in Texas: An Anthology, Bruce A. Glasrud and James Smallwood, eds. (Lubbock, TX: 2007).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coles, Solomon Melvin (1844-1924)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Edna Jordan, Black Tracks to Texas: Solomon Melvin Coles—From Slave to Educator (Corpus Christi: Golden Banner Press, 1977); Moses N. Moore, Jr. and Yolanda Y. Smith, “Solomon M. Coles: The First Black Student Officially Enrolled in Yale Divinity School,” Spectrum: Yale Divinity School History, 6-7; Moses N. Moore, Jr. and Yolanda Y. Smith, “Solomon M. Coles: Preacher, Teacher, and Former Slave—The First Black Student Officially Enrolled in Yale Divinity School,” http://www.yale.edu/divinity/storm/Coles.
Affiliation: 
Independent Historians

Biggers, John Thomas (1924-2001)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Twentieth century artist John Thomas Biggers was an educator, painter and muralist. His travels in Africa in the 1950s influenced the depiction of social and cultural themes in his work.

John Thomas Biggers was born in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1924. The youngest of seven children, Biggers enrolled in Hampton Institute where he initially studied plumbing. However, he found that his true love was art and soon changed his major.

Biggers trained with Viktor Lowenfeld at Hampton and received his first notoriety in 1943 when the 19-year-old student artist was featured in the exhibit Young Negro Art in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. That same year he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. In 1945 Biggers was committed to a Navy mental hospital in Pennsylvania for issues relating to anger and depression. Later that year he was dishonorably discharged.

Upon leaving the Navy, Biggers followed his mentor Lowenfeld to Pennsylvania State University where he developed his specialty working with murals. Biggers earned a master’s in art education in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1954 from Pennsylvania State University. While still working on his dissertation, Biggers became an art instructor at the new Texas State College for Negroes (later Texas Southern University), becoming a founding member of its Art Department faculty. He continued to work at Texas Southern University until his retirement in 1983.

Sources: 
Olive Jensen Theisen, Walls That Speak: The Murals of John Thomas Biggers (Denton: University of North Texas, 2010); Stephanie Spencer, "A Life on Paper: The Drawings and Lithographs of John Thomas Biggers," New York Review of Books 53, no. 17 (November 2, 2006): Mark M.  Johnson, "The Art of John Biggers," Arts & Activities 117, no. 5 (Summer 1995).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Garrison, Zina (1963- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Born November 16, 1963 in Houston, tennis star Zina Garrison was the youngest of seven children and was raised by her widowed mother, Mary Garrison. She began playing tennis at the age of 10 through the MacGregar Park Tennis Program. The program was run by John Wilkerson who later became Garrison’s coach throughout her tennis career. She graduated from Ross Sterling High School in 1981.

Garrison had an illustrious amateur career. She burst onto the scene in 1978 when she reached the finals in the U.S. Girls National Championship. Then from 1978 to 1982 she won three more major tournaments. As an amateur she became the 1981 International Tennis Federation Junior of the Year and the 1982 Women’s Tennis Association Most Impressive Newcomer.

Sources: 
Marilyn Marshall, "Zina Garrison: Aiming for the Top in Tennis," Ebony Magazine, June 1986; Jane Dur, "Zina Garrison," Texas Monthly, September 2001;  "Zina Garrison named 1st African-American U.S. Fed Cup captain," New York Amsterdam News, January 2004.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

9th Cavalry Regiment (1866-1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Ninth Cavalry at Fort Davis, Texas, ca. 1877
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 9th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular U.S. Army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Edward Hatch, an officer with no military experience prior to the Civil War but who distinguished himself as the commander of an Iowa cavalry regiment during the rebellion, was the 9th’s first commander.  Initial recruiting efforts centered on New Orleans and vicinity.  By February 1867, twelve companies were organized and on their way to Texas.

The regiment participated in numerous frontier campaigns, against the Comanche, the Ute, and most notably the Apache between 1877 and 1881.  In the early 1880s it also engaged in efforts to restrain settlers seeking to take up land in Indian Territory before that area was legally open.  In the 1870s the regiment was involved in the El Paso Salt War and in the 1890s it participated in efforts to restore order in the wake of the Johnson County, Wyoming Cattle War (1892) and railroad labor disputes (1894).  Colonel Hatch remained in command until his death at Fort Robinson, Nebraska in April 1889.  Forty-four of its soldiers were killed in action during this period, 28 against the Apaches.
Sources: 
Frank N. Schubert, Buffalo Soldiers, Braves and the Brass: the Story of Fort Robinson, Nebraska (Shippensburg, PA:  White Mane, 1993); Schubert, Black Valor:  Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, DE:  SR Books, 1997).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

24th Infantry Regiment (1866-1951)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Twenty-Fourth Infantry Soldiers at Yosemite Park
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When the U.S. Army was reorganized on July 28, 1866 for peacetime service after the American Civil War, six regiments were set aside for black enlisted men.  These included four infantry regiments, numbered 38th through 41st.  The 24th Infantry was organized during a reduction in March 1869 by merging the 38th and 41st.  Both had served in Texas since their establishment, and the consolidation took place at Fort McKavett.  The regiment’s first four commanders had rendered distinguished service in the Civil War.  They were Colonels Ranald S. Mackenzie (November 1869-December 1870), Abner S. Doubleday (December 1870-December 1872), Joseph H. Potter (December 1872-April 1886), and Zenas R. Bliss (April 1886-April 1895).
Sources: 
William G. Muller, The Twenty Fourth Infantry Past and Present (Fort Collins, CO:  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

25th Infantry Regiment (1866-1947)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
When the U.S. Army was reorganized on July 28, 1866 for peacetime service after the American Civil War, six regiments were set aside for black enlisted men.  These included four infantry regiments, numbered 38th through 41st.  The 25th Infantry was created during a reduction in March 1869 by merging the 39th and 40th.  The consolidation took place at New Orleans, and the regiment was sent to Texas.  Colonel Joseph A. Mower was its first commander.  Colonel John Andrews, the longest serving commander, presided over the unit from January 1871 until his retirement on July 4, 1892.

The regiment stayed in Texas until 1880.  Then it moved to the northern plains, and served in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana until the late 1890s.  At the beginning of the 1890s it became involved in the Pine Ridge campaign.  Later in the decade it served in labor disputes that pitted owners against the Western Federation of Miners, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Mining War of 1892.  The regiment also protected railroad property during the strike of 1894.  Its units were dispersed at several posts, until 1897, when all the companies of the regiment were assigned together for the first time, at Fort Douglas, outside Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sources: 
John H. Nankivell, The History of the Twenty-fifth Regiment United States Infantry 1869-1926 (Fort Collins, CO:  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Hopkins, Sam “Lightnin’” (1912-1982)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins, blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was born in Centerville, Texas in 1912 to sharecropping parents whose exact identities are unknown. At eight, Hopkins met legendary bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson at a social function in Buffalo, Texas. An accomplished guitarist for his age, Hopkins started to play along with Jefferson’s set, unbeknownst to the blind bluesman. Jefferson stopped the set and called for the intruding guitar player to reveal himself, which Hopkins promptly did. Astonished by Hopkins’ age, Jefferson encouraged him to continue accompanying him, as long as he could “play it right.”

After his meeting with Jefferson, Hopkins felt the blues to be his calling. He continued playing at informal gatherings and social functions throughout Texas. In the early 1930s, Hopkins settled in Houston's primarily black Third Ward and played on the road across Texas, often accompanied by his older cousin, Alger “Texas” Alexander. Despite rumors of Hopkins having been at Huntsville, the state penitentiary, which enhanced his credibility as a blues musician, there is no record of his ever having served time in the Texas prison system.
Sources: 

Alan Govenar, Lightnin’ Hopkins: His Life and Blues (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2010); Jason Rewald, “Lightnin’ Hopkins: New Facts Emerge,” http://www.tdblues.com/?p=842; Bill Dahl, “Lightnin’ Hopkins: AllMusic Biography,” http://www.allmusic.com/artist/lightnin-hopkins-p87808/biography
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Florida

Smith, Lonnie E. (1901-1971)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lonnie Smith was a well-known dentist in Houston, Texas, an officer in the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a civil rights activist.  He is best known for his role in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case bearing his name, Smith v. Allwright.

Sources: 
Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979); Charles L. Zelden, The Battle for the Black Ballot: Smith v. Allwright and the Defeat of the Texas All-White Primary (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004); http://www.laits.utexas.edu; http://www.tshaonline.org.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Allen, Debbie (1950- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Deborah “Debbie” Allen, dancer, choreographer, actress, director, and producer was born January 16, 1950 in Houston, Texas to Arthur Allen, a dentist and Vivian Ayers, a poet. Allen comes from a creative family: Allen’s brother “Tex” Allen is a jazz musician, and older sister Phylicia Rashad is an actress best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show.  Allen began dancing at a very early age and at age 12 she auditioned for the Houston Ballet School, but was denied admittance because she was African American. Luckily, a Russian dancer who saw Allen perform was so impressed with her that he secretly enrolled her in the school where she eventually became one of the top students.

At age 16 Allen auditioned at the North Carolina School of the Arts but was told that she did not have the right body type for ballet, a common criticism given to many aspiring black ballerinas to exclude them from classical ballet. Allen was so devastated by her rejection that she put her dancing career on hold for several years.
Sources: 
Ashyia Henderson, “Debbie Allen," Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 42 (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 2004); Kenneth Estell, “Debbie Allen,” The African American Almanac, 8th ed. (Farmington Hill, Michigan: Thomson/Gale, 1999).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Foxx, Jamie (1967- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Actor, singer, comedian, and musician, Jamie Foxx was born Eric Morlon Bishop in Terrell, Texas on December 13, 1967. He was adopted by his maternal grandparents Mark and Estelle Tolley after his parents’ divorce when he was still an infant. His grandmother introduced him to the piano at age three, and by age 15 Bishop was the musical director and choir leader at Terrell’s New Hope Baptist Church. He attended United States International University in San Diego on a piano scholarship, studied classical piano at Juilliard, and left school in 1988 without graduating.

On a dare, Bishop decided to perform at a stand-up comedy open mic night in Los Angeles in 1989, which jump started his comedy and acting career.  As he got more comedy engagements, he created a stage name (Foxx in ode to comedian Red Foxx, and the gender-neutral name Jamie because women tended to get priority spots for open mic nights). This led to Foxx being cast on the Fox television series In Living Color (1990-1994). Foxx then starred in WB Network’s The Jamie Foxx Show, which ran from 1996 to 2002.
Sources: 
Torriano Berry and Venise T. Berry, Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 2007); "Jamie Foxx | The Official Website," Jamie Foxx The Official Website; Steven Otfinoski, African Americans in the Performing Arts (New York: Facts On File, 2010).
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Jakes, Thomas Dexter (1957- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Thomas Dexter Jakes, megachurch pastor, best-selling author, playwright and movie producer, came from humble beginnings. He was born on June 9, 1957 in Charleston, West Virginia. Jakes was born into an entrepreneurial family. His father Earnest, Sr., owned a janitorial service that had three offices and 52 employees. His mother Odith, although a schoolteacher, also sold Avon products in her spare time. At the age of eight Jakes began selling vegetables from his mother’s garden. While in high school he cut grass, delivered newspapers, and sold Avon and Amway products. Eventually overwhelmed by the death of his father in 1972 and ridicule from his peers about his faith, Jakes dropped out of high school and pursued a call to preach. He eventually took a high school education equivalency test and attended West Virginia State College. Unable to meet the demands of school, church, and a full-time job at a chemical plant, Jakes quit college after a year.
Sources: 
Shayne Lee, T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (New York: New York University Press, 2005); Hubert Morken, “Bishop T.D. Jakes: A Ministry for Empowerment,” in Jo Renee Formicola and Hubert Morken, eds., Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics: Ten Profiles (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Wooten, Howard A. (1920-1948)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives
Tuskegee Airman Howard Adolphus Wooten was born on April 20, 1920 in Lovelady, Texas to parents Johnnie C. Morris Wooten and Howard L. Wooten.  His father was the principal of the “colored school” in Lovelady, a town 100 miles north of Houston, and his mother also was a teacher there.

Howard A. Wooten grew up on a farm near Lovelady and in 1937, at age 17, he entered Prairie View College on a football scholarship.  His main interest, however, was in aviation and he attempted to enroll in flight training programs.  His father objected because he didn’t think airplanes were safe and because he wanted his son to finish college.

Wooten dropped out of Prairie View College in 1940 and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private assigned to a Field Artillery unit.  He rose through the ranks, becoming a Staff Sergeant in the 46th Field Artillery Brigade by January 1942.

Now 24, and no longer needing his parent’s permission to enter flight training programs, he applied to the Army Flight School at Tuskegee, Alabama in 1944 and graduated in December of that year.  After graduation he was assigned to the 15th USAAF Brigade as a fighter pilot, in the 332nd Fighter Group.
Sources: 
Obituary of Howard A. Wooten published after his death in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 1948; conversations with his brothers Hayes L. Wooten, Octavius Wooten (deceased) and A.G. Wooten and his widow, Josephine A. Stokes.
Contributor: 

Peace, Hazel Harvey (1903-2008)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership:Public Domain
Fort Worth educator Hazel Bernice Harvey Peace was born on August 4, 1903, in Waco, Texas, to Allen H. and Georgia Mason Harvey.  Peace graduated from the Fort Worth Colored High School (later I. M. Terrell High School) in Fort Worth in 1919.  She obtained her B.A. degree in Education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1923, and began her teaching career at I. M. Terrell High School in 1924. She also received an M.A. from Columbia University and did postgraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Vassar College, Hampton University, and Atlanta University. Hazel Harvey married Joe Peace of Fort Worth in September 1938.  They were married 21 years and were childless.

During Peace's early tenure as an educator, the Fort Worth public libraries often excluded African American patrons.  When she started a debate team at I.M. Terrell High, Peace checked out books from local universities to encourage her students to read and help the debate team members prepare for debate competitions.
Sources: 
CBS11TV.com, "Texas Educator Hazel Harvey Peace Dead at 100," available at: http://cbs11tv.com/local/Hazel.Harvey.Peace.2.744015.html; Dallas Morning News, June 10, 2008; Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 11, 12, 2008; Katie Sherrod, "Honoring Hazel Harvey Peace," Desert's Child: A Blog, available at: http://wildernessgarden.blogspot.com/2007/08/honoring-hazel-harvey-peace.html; "Peace, Hazel Bernice Harvey,” Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Commission, available at: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpeac; Bob Ray Sanders, “Our Mother of Mercy Playground a Fitting Tribute to Hazel Harvey Peace," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 31, 2012; http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/01/31/3702034/our-mother-of-mercy-playground.html#storylink=cpy; http://schools.fwisd.org/peace/Pages/Default.aspx
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Bryant, Ira B., Jr. (1904-1989)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Ira Babington (I.B.) Bryant, Jr., Ed.D., was an educator, author, researcher, and administrator from the Houston, Texas area.  Bryant was born October 18, 1904, in Crockett, Texas, to Ira B. Bryant, Sr., and Ellen Starks Bryant, both educators. In 1905, the family relocated to Caldwell, Texas, before settling in Houston in 1920. Ira, Jr., attended Colored High School in the city. While at Colored High School, Ellen Starks Bryant passed away and Ira, Sr., remarried and moved to Alabama, leaving Bryant and his two brothers, Cecil and Eugene, to finish their educations in Houston.

After graduating in 1924, Bryant worked on a ship based out of New Orleans, Louisiana in order to save money for college and to travel. The same year, he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, completing a B.A. degree in 1928. In 1929, he moved back to Houston and gained a job teaching social science at Phillis Wheatley High School. During summers, he continued his education, earning an M.A. degree at the University of Kansas in 1932.  Bryant returned to Houston and married Thelma Scott, another teacher at Wheatley.  The couple moved into a newly-built house in Houston’s Third Ward.
Sources: 
Willie Lee Gay, "BRYANT, IRA BABINGTON, JR.," Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbrdt; Teresa Tompkins-Walsh, “Thelma Scott Bryant: Memories of a Century in Houston’s Third Ward,” The Houston Review (Fall 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

1836

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Texas declares its independence from Mexico. In its Constitution as an independent nation, Texas recognizes slavery and makes it difficult for free blacks to remain there.

1845

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Texas is annexed to the United States.

1865

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 19, enslaved African Americans in Texas finally receive news of their emancipation. From that point they commemorate that day as Juneteenth.

1865

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Twenty thousand African American troops are among the 32,000 U.S. soldiers sent to the Rio Grande as a show of force against Emperor Maximilian's French troops occupying Mexico. Some discharged black soldiers join the forces of Mexican resistance leader Benito Juarez.

1887

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The National Colored Farmers' Alliance is formed in Houston County, Texas.

1906

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On August 13 in Brownsville, Texas, approximately a dozen black troops riot against segregation and in the process kill a local citizen. When the identity of the killer cannot be determined, President Theodore Roosevelt discharges three companies of black soldiers on November 6.The episode would be called the Brownsville Affray.

1917

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On August 23, the Houston Mutiny and subsequent riot erupts between black soldiers and white citizens; two blacks and 11 whites are killed. Twenty-nine black soldiers are executed for participation in the riot.

1963

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas on November 22.

1995

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On May 6, Ron Kirk won the mayoral race in Dallas, becoming the first African American mayor of the city.

1997

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
In December, Lee Patrick Brown becomes Houston's first African American mayor.

1998

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AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 7, churchgoers discover the dismembered body of James Byrd, Jr., in Jasper, Texas. It is later determined that three white supremacists chained Byrd, who is black, to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged him to his death.

1528

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1492-1600
Timeline Entry Description: 
Esteban, a Morocco-born Muslim slave, is one of four survivors washed ashore near present-day Galveston, Texas. He is the first known person of African ancestry to enter what is now the western United States.

1600-1790s

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1601-1700
Timeline Entry Description: 
Persons of African ancestry are among the founders or early settlers of numerous towns in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California including San Antonio, Laredo, El Paso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Tucson, San Diego, Monterey and San Francisco.

1778

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1701-1800
Timeline Entry Description: 
A census of San Antonio, Texas shows 759 male residents including 151 blacks and mulattoes but only four are enslaved.

1820-1825

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AAW
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1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Free African Americans from the United States settle in Mexican Texas.

1822

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Bernardo, the first cotton plantation with enslaved people is established in Texas by former Georgia resident Jared E. Groce on the Brazos River.

1824

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
A new Mexican Constitution adopted on October 4 outlaws slavery throughout Mexico including Mexican Texas.

1825

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Sixty nine of 1,347 residents of the Austin colony in Mexican Texas are slaveholders. They own 443 enslaved people.

1828

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The contract labor system is introduced in Texas. It is quickly revealed as a subterfuge to get around Mexico's ban on slavery.

1829

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On September 15, Mexican President Vicente Ramon Guerrero issues the Guerrero Decree which prohibits slavery in any form in Mexico. Guerrero however issues a subsequent decree on December 2 which exempts Texas from the ban.

1835

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
At the beginning of the year there are approximately 25,000 English-speaking inhabitants of Mexican Texas including 5,000 enslaved African Americans. The Tejano population is approximately 6,000 and there are 14,500 Indians.

1835

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On November 7, Anglo-Texans meet at San Felipe de Austin to establish a provisional government in Mexican Texas and elect a general council to govern the area north of the Rio Grande.

1836

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On March 2, the General Council of Texas declares the province's independence from Mexico.

1836

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Alamo is captured by the Mexican Army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna on March 6. Hundreds of enslaved Texans leave the farms and plantations to join or support the Mexican Army. Far more take advantage of the war of independence to escape south across the Rio Grande, or north across the Red River into the sparsely populated Indian Territory.

1836

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On April 22, General Santa Anna surrenders to Texan forces led by General Sam Houston.

1845

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Texas is annexed to the United States.

1845

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Pio Pico again serves as Governor of Mexican California. He is the last governor during Mexican rule.

1860

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The U.S. Census of 1860 shows Texas with 182,556 black bondspeople, about 30 percent of the state's population. There are only 355 free blacks in the state. Ten Texas counties have more enslaved people than free people. Slavery is also legal in the Indian Territory where 7,000 enslaved people comprise 14 percent of the territory's population and in Utah Territory where 29 of its 59 black inhabitants are enslaved.

1861

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On March 4, Texas joins Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana in creating the Confederate States of America.

1865

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 19, General Gordon Granger leads Union forces ashore at Galveston, Texas where he issues the Texas Emancipation Proclamation. From that point the freedpeople of Texas and their descendants commemorate that day as Juneteenth.

1865

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Over the summer former slaves from central and east Texas gather in a section of Houston they will call Freedmantown which will be the nucleus for the African American urban community called Fourth Ward. Similar post-Civil War black communities will emerge in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and other Texas cities.

1866

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Texas enacts a series of black codes designed to limit the freedom of the ex-slaves. They include among other measures, a child apprenticeship law, a contract labor code, a vagrancy act and the convict leasing system.

1866

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is organized in Houston. It is the oldest continually operating African American church in the city.

1867

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Reconstruction Acts are passed by Congress on March 2. Congress abolishes civilian government and places Texas in a military district. These acts abolish the state's post-Civil War governments and call for the creation of new governments elected by all of the state's male voters.

1867

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On July 4, one hundred fifty black and twenty white delegates meet in Houston to form the Texas Republican Party. They select Elisha M. Pease as chairman of the Party. Pease is eventually appointed Governor by General Philip Sheridan, the regional military commander.

1881

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Tillotson College is founded in Austin, Texas by the Congregational Church in 1877.  It opens its doors in 1881. 

1869

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
In November Matthew Gaines of Washington County and George T. Ruby of Galveston become the first African Americans elected to the Texas State Senate. Twelve other African Americans will serve in the State House of Representatives. By 1898, forty-two black men will have served in the Texas Legislature.

1869

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AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Walter Moses Burton is elected sheriff of Fort Bend County, Texas. He becomes the first African American in the West to hold that post.

1870

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
By the middle of the year forty-six Freedman's Bureau-sponsored schools are operating in Texas for black children. The largest numbers are in Galveston, Houston, San Antonio and Brownsville. The Bureau reports 5,182 black pupils attending these schools in contrast to the 11 black children enrolled in schools in the state in 1860.

1870

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 28, twenty-three-year-old Emanuel Stance of F Troop, Ninth Cavalry becomes the first Buffalo Soldier to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. The award is given for his action against Apache Indians at Kickapoo Springs, Texas on May 20, 1870.

1877

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 15, Henry O. Flipper becomes the first African American to graduate from West Point. He will be followed at the academy by John Hanks Alexander (1887) and Charles Young (1889). Flipper is assigned to the Tenth Cavalry at Fort Concho, Texas, becoming the first black officer to command Buffalo Soldiers.

1877

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On December 19, Col. Edward Hatch leads the Ninth Cavalry into El Paso to end the Salt War, a racial and economic conflict between the Latino majority and Anglo minority in the city.

1882

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Lt. Henry O. Flipper is court-martialed at Fort Davis, Texas for accounting irregularities as commissary officer. After leaving the Army, Flipper works for the next thirty seven years as a mining engineer in New Mexico and Mexico, becoming the first African American to gain distinction in that profession.

1887

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The National Colored Farmers' Alliance is formed in Houston County, Texas.

1892

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
John B. Rayner and Melvin Wade lead many black Republicans into the Populist Party.

1893

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Texas Freeman is established in Houston by Charles and Lilla Love. It eventually evolves into the Houston Informer which is the oldest continuously operating black newspaper in Texas.

1906

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On August 13 in Brownsville, Texas, approximately a dozen black troops riot against segregation and in the process kill a local citizen in an incident that will be called the Brownsville Affray. When the identity of the killer cannot be determined President Theodore Roosevelt discharges three companies of black soldiers on November 6.

1917

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On August 23, a riot erupts in Houston between black soldiers and white citizens; two blacks and 11 whites are killed. Twenty nine black soldiers are executed for participation in what will be known as the Houston Mutiny.

1921

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Bessie Coleman of Atlanta, Texas, the first black female pilot, also becomes the first woman to receive an international pilot's license when she graduates from the Federation Aeronautique International in France.

1924

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On July 26, El Paso dentist Lawrence Aaron Nixon attempts to vote in the Texas Democratic Primary. He is denied a ballot because of his race. Nixon initiates an NAACP-supported lawsuit, and a twenty year campaign, to test the constitutionality of the state statute that bans African Americans from voting in the primary.

1936

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Dallas political leaders Rev. Maynard H. Jackson, Sr. and Antonio Maceo Smith organize the Progressive Citizens' League which is soon renamed the Progressive Voters' League. The League initially challenges restrictions on African American voting in the city and eventually becomes one of the most effective black political organizations in Texas.

1943

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On June 15, a false story of a rape of the wife of a white shipyard worker prompts the Beaumont Race Riot, an attack by nearly 2,000 European American shipyard workers in Beaumont, Texas against their African American counterparts. When the riot ends 24 hours later three black workers and one white worker are dead and over four hundred are injured.

1944

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On April 3, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Allwright, a case from Houston, Texas, declares that state's white only political primary unconstitutional.

1960

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On September 8, first grader Tyronne Raymond Day takes his seat with twenty-nine white classmates to become the first African American to attend a desegregated school in Houston.

1989

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Houston, Texas Congressman George Thomas "Mickey" Leland is killed in a plane crash near Gambela, Ethiopia on August 7.

1886

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Norris Wright Cuney becomes chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He is the first African American to head a major political party at the state level in U.S. history

1886

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Norris Wright Cuney becomes chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He is the first African American to head a major political party at the state level in U.S. history

1978

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Jill Brown becomes the first black female pilot for a commercial passenger airline (Texas International Airlines).

1995

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Ronald "Ron" Kirk is elected the first African American mayor of Dallas, Texas.

1997

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Lee P. Brown is elected as the first African American mayor of Houston.

1873

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Wiley College is founded in Marshall, Texas.  It is the first institution of higher education for African Americans in the West.
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