This Week in Texas Black History -- Dec. 8-14
|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 (a.k.a. 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 state -- its infrastructure, its image, its culture. From Esteban to Beyonce, the Texas Black History Preservation Project is
charting every aspect of the black experience in Texas. Through a series of special packages, we are starting to build an online encyclopedia for all things black history in Texas. Our first offering was,
“Coming to Texas, 1528-1836,” focusing on the origins and circumstances of how blacks came to this part of the world. We also have a package of stories looking at the 1917 Houston Riots.
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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
Texas Black History...Now
History-related news and events from African American communities around the state
|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
- "Camp Logan Riot of 1917": An essay by Roxanne Evans and
- 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"
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln 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.
9 – Taylor native Bill Pickett became the first African-American elected to the Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame on this day in 1971. Pickett is noted as the
originator of "steer wresting" with his technique of “bulldogging” steers, during which Pickett would subdue unruly cows by jumping from his
horse to the cow, wrestling him to the ground, then biting the creature's lip. Pickett said he got the idea from watching dogs do the same thing when
they were herding cows. Known as the “Dusky Demon," Pickett has also been honored by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its "Legends of the West"
series of commemorative stamps.
9 – On this day in 1930, Calvert native Rube Foster, founder of baseball’s first successful all-black league, the Negro National League, died in
Kankakee, Illinois. Known as the "Father of Black Baseball," Foster was a star pitcher and manager for the Chicago American Giants, as well as league
commissioner. The NNL, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., had teams in the South and Midwest including Texas teams such as the Austin Black
Senators, Fort Worth Black Panthers, and the Houston Eagles. Foster was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
11 -- On this day in 1912, Heman Marion Sweatt was born in Houston. In 1946, Sweatt, a graduate of Wiley College, challenged the admissions
policy at the University of Texas law school. He teamed with the NAACP, which was looking to test separate but equal education statutes in Texas.
Sweatt’s legal battle struck down segregationist policies at the UT law school, gained him admission, and paved the way for the landmark decision
of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
11 – Texas blues pioneer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born on this day in 1926 in Montgomery, Alabama. Thornton left home in 1941 to
pursue her musical career, eventually settling in Houston in 1948. Her 1952 recording of "Hound Dog" was later a huge hit for Elvis Presley, and her
song "Ball and Chain" was made famous by Janis Joplin.
12 -- The Ashworth Act was passed by the Texas Congress on this day in 1840 in response to an act passed on February 5, 1840 which prohibited free
blacks from living in the Republic of Texas. The Ashworth Act was targeted towards certain free blacks (primarily a family of blacks named Ashworth
who had “contributed generously” during the Texas Revolution), but generally said that “all free persons of color together with their families, who
were residing in Texas the day of the Declaration of Independence" (March 2, 1836) could remain in the state. Other free blacks had two years to
vacate Texas or be sold into slavery.
13 – On this day in 1967, actor and comedian Eric Marlon Bishop was born in Terrell. In 1989, Bishop changed his name to Jamie Foxx in an effort to
get more performance time as a stand-up comic at a Los Angeles club. As an actor, he became the first African American to receive two acting Oscar
nominations in the same year (2004) for two different movies, Collateral and Ray.
14 – On this day in 1978, Iola Bowden Chambers, co-founder and director of the Negro Fine Arts School in Georgetown, died in Brownwood.
Bowden was a native of Holder and received a diploma in piano in 1926 from the Washington Conservatory of Music. She returned to Texas and
taught music at Southwestern University where she and three of her students began teaching piano to black children in Georgetown as the Negro
Fine Arts School. The program was sponsored by the Student Christian Association at Southwestern University and classes were held at the First
Methodist Church of Georgetown. Over 200 students participated in the school during its existence from 1946 to 1966. The program held an annual
recital but also awarded college scholarships. One former teacher said the basic impact of the organization was "the realization of the power of music
as a universal language to transcend racial and cultural barriers."
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 Texas
Medical Association, the digital exhibit highlights the struggles of early
black doctors in the state and follows pioneers such as Quinton
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
Symposium Honoring the Legacy of the PVIL: "Thursday Night Lights"
The enduring legacy of the Prairie View Interscholastic League and all the great coaches, athletes, and others the league
and its member schools produced will be celebrated during a two-day event at the University of Texas AT&T
Conference Center (1900 University Avenue) on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Participants will include David Lattin, Houston
Worthing legend who was Texas' first prep basketball All-America, Port Arthur Lincoln running back Joe
Washington, Jr., and his dad Coach Joe Washington, Sr., Houston Kashmere running back Delvin Williams, and
Dallas Lincoln track star Beverly Day Humphrey, now a successful coach at Lancaster High School.
The PVIL governed athletic, academic, and band competitions for Texas' black high schools from 1920-1970 before
merging with the University Interscholastic League (UIL). The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. on the 31st
during which a documentary film about the PVIL will debut. New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, author of
"Forty Million Dollar Slaves," will be keynote speaker.
Friday's four sessions, beginning at 9:45 a.m. will be: "The History of the PVIL and Education in Texas," "Athletics
During the Era of the PVIL," "The Transition: Integration and the Merger with UIL," and "The PVIL’s Legacy In
Austin: A View from Old Anderson High School."
The event is being presented by UT's Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Texas Black
History Preservation Project in co-operation with the PVILCA. Parking for the event is available in the Center's garage.
(click to enlarge)