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"Coming to Texas, 1528-1836"
Approximately 54% of all enslaved Africans brought to the New
World between 1519 and 1700 disembarked in Spanish America, and
New Spain (Mexico) received its share through the ports of Veracruz  
where Africans were first brought and taken for work in the country's
gold and silver mines, as servants, field workers and other labors.  So
numerous were Africans in New Spain that by 1570 the 20,569
Africans there were three times the Spanish population.
The Africans spread out through New Spain, including heading  
north and across the Rio Grande inter-marrying with indigenous
people, running away from slavery (marronage) and starting their  
own communities. Some became the first black Texans.
This package examines how Africans first came to this part of the

Mailing address:
1108 Lavaca St., No. 110-212
Austin, TX 78701      
Phone: 512-673-0565      
Unitarian Universal
of Austin
Texas Black History Preservation Project
Documenting the Complete African American Experience in Texas -- "Know your history, know yourself"
Want to submit an entry? See our submissions page for how you can contribute an entry, essay, photo or other pertinent information.

The Houston Riot/Camp Logan Mutiny
The darkest social blemish in Houston's history occurred on the steamy
night of Aug. 23, 1917. The Houston Riot, also called the Camp  Logan
Mutiny, is known as the only race riot in U.S. history where  more
whites (15) than blacks (4) died. The incident led to the largest  court
martial in U.S. military history.
Here, the TBHPP examines that night as well as the events leading to it
and the aftermath that included 19 members of the 24th Infantry (a unit
of the famed "Buffalo Soldiers") being led to the gallows and buried  in
practically unmarked graves at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.  Our
stories include:

  • "Camp Logan Riot of 1917": An essay by Roxanne Evans and
    Michael Hurd
  • Angela Holder, history professor at Houston Community College,
    Central Campus, is a great niece of one of the 24th Infantry
    soldiers hung for alleged participation in the riot. Prof. Holder
    writes a personal reflection on the riots.
  • Expanded Timeline: A history of African Americans in the U.S.
  • The Crisis Report -- Right's activist Martha Gruening reported on
    the Houston violence for the November, 1917 edition of The Crisis
    magazine, the NAACP's influential quarterly publication started
    by W.E.B. DuBois.
  • Video: "Buffalo Soldiers history."
Drawing by Kathleen Howell

"The Emancipation Proclamation --
              Freedom Realized and Delayed"
The 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was marked in 2013. President Abraham Lincoln signed the
proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The order officially freed all slaves within the states or parts of states, basically the
Confederate states, including Texas, that were in rebellion against the Union. However, the proclamation did not
apply to the one million slaves in Union territory who remained in bondage and word of the edict would not
officially reach Texas for another two and half years -- June 19, 1865.
View the TBHPP special package on the
Proclamation and Juneteenth, including an essay, video, and images.
In recognizing the 127th anniversary of the founding of the Lone Star
Medical Assn., the TBHPP is presenting a wonderful exhibit on the
history of African-American physicians in Texas. Courtesy of the
Medical Association, the digital exhibit highlights the struggles of early
Belvedre Neal, the first African-American to practice medicine in Texas
in 1882 in Goliad. Some were born slaves, such as Franklin R. Robey,
MD, of Houston, some were the children of slaves. Maps, vintage
images, and a timeline trace key events starting in 1837 and continuing
until 2009 when TMA elected its first African-American president,
William H. Fleming III, MD, a Houston neurologist. Click here to view  
the exhibit.
22 – On this day in 1944, Dr. Lawrence Nixon, an El Paso physician, voted in the Democratic primary, the first
black voter in the state to do so. The
Texas legislature had passed a law in 1923 forbidding blacks from voting in
the primary. However, Nixon, working with the
NAACP, challenged the law and attempted to vote on July 26,
1924 and was refused a ballot. Twice the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, however, the state Democratic
found legal loopholes (including asserting the party was a private organization and could set restrictions on
who could vote) to continue preventing blacks from voting in the primary. Finally, as a result of the Court’s ruling
Smith v. Allwright (where Lonnie Smith had brought a similar suit in Harris County), the all-white primary
was ended on April 3, 1944 enabling blacks to vote in the primary. The Court ruled that a primary was an election
and a political party was an agency of the state and thus could not discriminate by race.
This Week in Texas Black History -- July 20-26
Africans have had a presence in Texas for almost 500 years, maybe longer. The territory was the northernmost area of New Spain (Mexico) in 1528 when Esteban (Estevanico), a Moroccan Moor
servant, waded ashore with a group of Spanish conquistadors near what is now Galveston Island and established himself as the first known African in what would become Texas. Since, African
Americans have contributed significantly in all facets of the building of the Lone Star State -- its infrastructure, image, and culture. For that, the Texas Black History Preservation Project is charting
every aspect of the black experience in Texas as an online encyclopedia.
     An official historical marker commemorating the origin and meaning of Juneteenth was dedicated during a ceremony on Saturday, June 21 in
downtown Galveston at the intersection of
22nd Street and The Strand, the former site of headquarters for Union Gen. Gordon Granger. The marker
was awarded by the
Texas Historical Commission.
      On June 19, 1865, one day after arriving in Galveston, Granger officially announced the end of slavery two and a half years after President
Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation applied only to the Confederate states, including Texas – not border
states where slaves could still be held. The Confederates ignored the edict until after the
Civil War's end though some slaves reported they remained in
bondage for several years after the proclamation.
      Because there was no Union army presence in Texas – the state experienced only a few skirmishes during the war – word of slavery's end was slow
to reach the state. Since 1866, Black Texans have annually celebrated "Emancipation Day" on June 19 with picnics, parades, programs and other festive
activities as a day to recognize African American community, history, and achievement. In 1980, the day became an official state holiday and now 42
other states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or special day of observance.
      "The establishment of a Juneteenth Marker in downtown Galveston will allow all visitors to our historic downtown to appreciate the significance
of what happened on June 19, 1865," said Hank Thierry, Chair of
Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee. "Our
committee believes the marker placement in downtown Galveston gives the most accurate, documented, historically significant venue to honor
Juneteenth. The world will now know the exact location where General Granger issued General Order No. 3”
      For years, it's been said that Granger read the order to the public from a balcony at
Ashton Villa (built in 1858 as one of the first brick houses in
Texas) where he also may have resided during his stay in Galveston as commander of the District of Texas. While there is no direct proof that the Villa
was the site of the reading, reenactments of the occasion have taken place there. General Order No. 3 was one of five orders Granger delivered that day  
establishing his authority over the rest of Texas and laying out the initial priorities of his administration. Order No. 3 said: "The people of Texas are
informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of
personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between
employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be
allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."
      Speakers for the ceremony included elected officials from across the state of Texas.
      Among the event's sponsors were the
Galveston County Historical Commission and the Galveston Historical Foundation. The Texas Historical
Commission is the state agency for historic preservation and administers a variety of programs to preserve the archeological, historical and cultural
resources of Texas. Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with approximately 15,000 markers.
Juneteenth historical marker dedicated in Galveston
Ashton Villa
Related story: "Juneteenth: The Emancipation Proclamation -- Freedom Realized and Delayed"
Texas Black History...Now
History-related news and events from African American communities around the state

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Austin honors 22 African American civic leaders; launches annual Portrait Project
      The African American Portrait Project, which will be an annual event, was launched on June 9 as officials from the City of Austin unveiled 22 tiled
The unveiling was part of a standing-room only reception for honorees, their family and friends celebrating black citizens who have made a long-lasting
impact in Austin and who were – or continue to be – pioneers in their areas of service. The ceremonies took place in front of the Heritage Facility's glass,
stone, and tiled mosaic
“Reflections” mural (by artist Reginald C. Adams) which was unveiled in March 2013 and pays tribute to many important people,
places and events in the history of Austin’s African American community. (Mural image
      As a continuation of the mural, which already had 89 portraits, the African American Portrait Project will annually add more images. The new
portraits border the mosaic artwork's sides, the original images line the top and bottom of the mural.
      The new portrait honorees include: attorney and NAACP State President
Gary Bledsoe, folklorist John Mason Brewer, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes,
former Austin Police Captain
Louis White, and Wallace Jefferson, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. (For a complete list of honorees,
      The newly added portraits can be seen vertically bordering each side of the “Reflections” artwork mosaic. The
African American Resource Advisory
Commission oversees the portrait profile selection process.
      “There were so many great submissions that the Commission felt compelled to find a way to include more outstanding African Americans," said
Commission Chairman Greg Smith. "We are happy the artist and the Commission were able to collaborate to include more honorees annually to the
beautiful mural.”
New Entry!
Starita Smith, Ph.D., looks at an often overlooked aspect of the Underground Railroad that saw thousands of
slaves escape bondage and flee to non-slave states or across the U.S. borders to freedom. The more popular
Northern routes channeled many escapees to Canada, but a lesser known Southern path went through Texas
and ended in Mexico. Smith writes, "Slavery was a primary motivation for the opening of the West, but just as
in so many other foundational events in the history of the U.S., the slavery question is often overlooked when
western history is discussed, and so is the southern route of escape from enslavement that thousands of
Africans took through Texas into Mexico." Read her entry, "A Southern Route of the Underground Railroad,"
25 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, blues singer, died of a heart attack at age 57 on this day in 1984 in a Los
Angeles boarding house. Thornton grew up in Montgomery, Ala., but settled in Houston where she started her
recording career after being discovered by singer and producer
Johnny Otis and working with Houston music
Don Robey’s Peacock Records. By the time of Thornton's death, Otis had become a pastor and in that
capacity officiated Thornton’s funeral as many musical artists paid tribute. She was buried in
Inglewood Park
Cemetery in Los Angeles. Later that year, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. Thornton’s
1953 hit, “
Hound Dog,” was No. 1 for seven of its 14 weeks on Billboard’s R&B charts. Elvis Presley made it an
even bigger hit, and
Janis Joplin popularized Thornton’s “Ball and Chain.”
Texas Black History Preservation Project