Project Overview

Overview PowerPoint Tour

The purpose of the Texas Black History Preservation Project is to document the comprehensive history of African Americans in Texas through a series of books and interactive DVDs. This is a landmark project in that no one has ever attempted a project of this magnitude and scope in regard to Black history in Texas. While there have been numerous works about various segments of the Black community in Texas, there is nothing that ties those stories together, nothing that brings those stories together in a central location.

Because of that, we feel our project will have a profound effect on education, specifically in the teaching of Black history. We will conduct scholarly research and promote the history of African Americans in Texas to the benefit of teachers, students, and historians but also the general public, across racial lines, in Texas and most likely beyond. We feel there are still large gaps in the teaching of Black history and it is our hope that the fruits of this project will have a direct impact in classrooms, encouraging and increasing the ability for teachers to offer more in-depth lessons about local and statewide African American experiences, and present those lessons well beyond the boundaries of Black History Month.

Culturally, what we do will give African-American youth an increased sense of self and pride with an increased and deeper knowledge of what generations before them have contributed and accomplished in the growth of Texas.

The series will breakdown like this:

Volume 1 – 1528-1700

Volume 2 – 1700-1800

Volume 3 – 1800-1900

Volume 4 – 1900-2000

Volume 5 – 2000-Present

The series will span from Estevanico (Esteban, Stephen the Moor) wading ashore at Galveston Island with noted Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca in 1528 to Lovie Smith leading the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl, as the first African American coach to do so (albeit by only a few hours!). Coach Smith is a native of Big Sandy, Texas and his will be among hundreds of profiles, bios, and other wide ranging subjects about people, places, events, and issues, as well as interpretive essays from prominent scholars and historians addressing centuries of seminal events and noted African American personalities.

Here are just a few of the topics that will be covered in essay formats:

  • African Americans in agrarian Texas
  • How slavery shaped the Lone Star State
  • Texas as a Southern state
  • Reactions and effect of the Emancipation Proclamation
  • African Americans as builders of the State
  • African Americans in the Texas Revolution and Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Rise of the Talented Tenth in Texas (early lawmakers)
  • Separate but unequal: Education in Texas
  • The “new” Negro: Black Texans in post-WWI
  • Great migration
  • School desegregation
  • The Demographic Shift: What the Hispanic influx means to African Americans
  • Rise to power of Black politicians in Texas
  • Affirmative action
  • The effects of AIDS on the Black community (Texas has the fourth largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., with people of color the majority of victims)

Here is a very brief sampling of some of the hundreds of other subjects and profiles to be included:

761st Tank Battalion – The unit trained at Fort Hood, near Killeen, and was surprisingly called to Europe in November 1944 to serve with Gen. Patton’s Third Army as the first-ever all-Black tank unit deployed for combat duty.

Ailey, Alvin – Dancer, choreographer, and founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and a native of the Central Texas town of Rogers.

Ali, Muhammad – The 25-year-old world heavyweight champion, who was residing in Houston at the time, made his conscientious objector stand on the steps of the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station at the United States Custom House on April 28, 1967.

Biggers, John – An internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, teacher and philosopher, Biggers established the art department at Texas Southern University in 1949 and served as professor there for more than 30 years.

Bledsoe, Jules – The well-noted concert singer, actor, and composer was born in Waco, and received his B.A. from Bishop College in 1918. Bledsoe had a leading role in the 1926 performance of the opera, Deep River, which had a large, racially mixed cast.

Brownsville Raid (1906) – The all-Black 25th Infantry stationed at Fort Brown were accused of attacking a white woman in downtown Brownsville. The resulting investigation led to President Theodore Roosevelt to summarily discharge “without honor” all 167 of the unit’s men stationed at Fort Brown, the largest summary dismissals in U.S. Army history.

Campbell, Earl – Nicknamed, “The Tyler Rose,” Campbell was arguably the greatest running back in University of Texas history. In 1977, became the Longhorns’ first Heisman Trophy winner.

Coleman, Bessie – The pioneering aviatrix from Atlanta, Texas was the first licensed Black pilot in the world, and the first Black woman to fly in the U.S.

Cottrell, Comer – Founder of Pro-Line hair care products, based in Dallas, and philanthropist. Was also part owner of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team.

Cuney, Norris Wright – The child of a white planter, Cuney was born in 1846 on a plantation near Hempstead and became a powerful figure in Texas’ Republican circles – president of the Galveston chapter of the Union League, secretary of the Republican State Executive Committee, and the Republican Party’s national committeeman from Texas.

Delco, Wilhelmina – In 1968, first African American elected to public office in Austin (Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees). Later, she served 10 terms in the state legislature, including, in 1979, her appointment as Chair of the House Higher Education Committee making her the first woman and the second African American to hold the second highest position in the Texas House of Representatives.

Estevanico – Also known as Estevan, and Stephen the Moor, was a native of Azamor, on the Atlantic shore of Morocco. Estevanico was in the exploration party that included Cabeza de Vaca that ship-wrecked near western Galveston Island. Once ashore, Estevanico became the first African-born person to enter Texas.

Farmer, James – The Marshall native was a civil rights activist and leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), helping to shape the Civil Rights Movement through nonviolence, and organizing sit-ins and Freedom Rides.

Flipper, Lt. Henry O. – In 1877, Flipper became the first Black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. However, he was in charge of the commissary at Fort Davis, Texas in 1881 when he was accused and later convicted of embezzlement. A later Army review suggested he had been singled out for his race.

Flood, Curt – A Major League Baseball player and Houston native, Flood’s antitrust litigation challenging the major leagues’ reserve clause was unsuccessful, however it led ultimately to the clause’s demise and ushered in the era of free agency for pro athletes.

Foster, RubePitcher, manager, and baseball team owner, Foster, born in Calvert, became known as the “father of Black baseball” after founding in 1920 the Negro National League (NNL), the first successful professional league for African American ballplayers.

Foxx, Jamie – The Terrell, Texas-born actor became only the second male, and the first African American, in history to receive two acting Oscar nominations in the same year (2004) for two different movies, Collateral and Ray. He received the best actor award for Ray.

Freedman’s Bureau – The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established by Congress in March 1865 as a branch of the United States Army. Its functions were to provide relief to the thousands of refugees, Black and white, who had been left homeless by the Civil War, to supervise affairs related to newly freed slaves in the southern states, and to administer all land abandoned by Confederates or confiscated from them during the war.

Guillory, Bishop Curtis – In 1988, Guillory became the first Black Roman Catholic bishop of Texas when he was appointed to the Galveston-Houston diocese in 1988. He is the national bishop promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea and a member of the U.S. bishops’ committee on African American Catholics and the committee for Migration and Refugee Services, among many others.

Houston Riots of 1917 – On August 23, 1917, members of the Third Battalion of the 24th Infantry took part in what the U.S. Army calls the “Houston Mutiny, the first race riot in American history in which more whites than Blacks died. Over a hundred Black soldiers marched through downtown Houston seeking revenge on Houston police for their brutal and racist treatment of the soldiers. The violence left 16 whites and four Black soldiers dead. One hundred eighteen of the unit’s soldiers were tried in a hastily-convened court-martial – the largest ever in the U.S., 13 of the soldiers were hung near Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio. Numerous others received lengthy jail sentences.

Jefferson, Blind Lemon – Born in 1897 in Coutchman, Jefferson, who had no formal music education, became one of the country’s most famous blues musicians. It has been said that his music and distinctive vocal style influenced such greats as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Tommy Dorsey. Jefferson also encouraged Sam “Lightning” Hopkins when Hopkins was only an eight-year-old boy in Buffalo. Jefferson made 79 blues and jazz records for Paramount Records in the 1920s, each estimated to have sold 100,000 copies.

Johnson, JackThe son of former slaves was born in Galveston and became a controversial heavyweight champion who had honed his physical skills by lifting cotton bales as a youngster in Belgrade, near the Sabine River. Johnson won the title in 1910, defeating Jim Jeffries – the first in a series of “white hopes” to fight Johnson.

Joplin, Scott -- Entertainer, pianist, and composer noted as the “King of Ragtime.” Joplin grew up in Texarkana. In 1976, he was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Treemonisha, the first grand opera by an African American.

Jordan, Barbara -- Politician, educator, who, in 1966, was elected to the Texas State Senate, becoming the state’s first Black senator since 1883. Jordan grew up in Houston. In 1973, she was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from the Eighteenth Texas District, becoming the first Black woman from a Southern state to serve in Congress,

JuneteenthSlaves in Texas did not hear of their freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation for more than two years after its passage. On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and delivered the news.

Kirk, Ron – An Austin native was appointed Texas’ first Black Secretary of State in 1994, and in 1995 was elected the first Black mayor of Dallas. In 2001, he was the first Black Texan to run for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by John Cornyn.

Knowles, Beyonce – The ten-time Grammy Award-winning Houstonian rose to fame as the creative force and lead singer for the girl group Destiny’s Child, the best-selling female group of all time with over fifty million records sold. Knowles has won twenty-four Billboard Music Awards, seven World Music Awards, seven NAACP Image Awards.

Leland, George Thomas “Mickey” An international spokesman for the hungry and poor, Leland was a congressman from the state’s 18th District. Leland was born in Lubbock, but grew up in Houston. In 1972, Texas for the first time allowed its State House and Senate seats to be elected as single-member districts and Leland was among five minority candidates (dubbed the “People's Five”), to win elections to the Texas House of Representatives, a first for a state which, although the legendary Barbara Jordan had been a state senator, had not seen any Black state representatives since Reconstruction. Leland was elected U.S. representative in 1979.

Lincolnville at Moccasin Bend – A Black community in West Central Texas. In 1865, upon first hearing of their emancipation, many of the Coryell County Blacks, finally chose to stay where they were. The liberated slaves purchased land along the west side of the Leon River, near a turn in the river called Moccasin Bend. Adopting the name of their liberator, they called their new home Lincolnville.

McCulloch, Samuel, Jr. – The Texas Revolution began in October 1835 with a free Black man, Samuel McCulloch, Jr., the first casualty when he received a shoulder wound as Texans captured the Mexican fort at Goliad.

Miller, Doris – A Waco native was a mess man aboard the USS West Virginia, in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller moved several wounded sailors to safety and then manned an anti-aircraft gun, for which he had no training, and fired at attacking planes. For his actions, Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy’s second highest honor, the Navy Cross.

Pearson, Earl – Served as Captain of Company “A” in Houston and is now Senior Captain (Chief) of the Texas Rangers. Capt. Pearson is both the first African-American Captain and the first African-American Chief of the Texas Rangers.

Poll tax – Texas adopted a poll tax in 1902 as a means of suppressing Black voting. It required that otherwise eligible voters pay between $1.50 and $1.75 to register to vote – a lot of money at the time, and a big barrier to the working classes and poor.

Sweatt v. Painter – The landmark case opened the University of Texas law school and the university’s graduate school to Blacks. In 1946, with the support of the NAACP, Houston native Heman Marion Sweatt sued for admission to the school. Although Sweatt lost in state court, the United States Supreme Court in 1950 ordered the integration of The University of Texas School of Law and also The University's Graduate School.

Whittier, Julius – The 1969 Longhorns were the last all-white team to win a national college football championship. The next season, Whittier was a backup offensive lineman for the Longhorns and the school’s first Black letterman.

Wilson, Arthur “Dooley” – A musician and actor from Tyler, Wilson played a significant role in the film, “Casablanca,” not necessarily as a part of the plot, but as the piano player who sang “As Time Goes By,” the classic theme which ranks among filmdom’s top movie songs.

Yates, Rev. John Henry “Jack” – Yates was the son of slaves, was the first pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first Black Baptist church in Houston, organized in 1866. He helped purchase Emancipation Park on Dowling Street and was instrumental in organizing the first Baptist association for blacks in Houston, the Old Land Mark Association, which exists today.