This Week in Texas Black History -- Mar. 2-8
|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.
|The TBHPP is an independent nonprofit research group. Your kind donations will help support our work
and keep this site access free and open to the public. Click here to donate.
The TBHPP sincerely thanks these organizations for their support:
|"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 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"
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 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
Texas Black History...Now
History-related news and events from African American communities around the state
The University of Texas made a historic hire on Jan. 5 when it was announced that Charlie Strong would become the school's new head football
coach, making him the program's 29th head coach and the first African American to hold the position since UT began playing football in 1893. In fact,
Strong is the first black coach for any of the school's major men's programs.
Strong, 59, signed a five-year deal paying him $5 million annually making him one of the highest paid coaches in the country.
"When you think about it, yes, this is a historical day," the former Louisville coach said at his introductory press conference. "It was a historical day
when (Barack Obama) was named the president of the United States also. But I don't ever want to look at it as the first. I just want to look at it as, I'm a
coach and that's the way I want to be treated."
Though the Longhorns have never had a male black head coach, UT's new Athletic Director Steve Patterson supposedly was considering four black
coaches, including Strong, to fill the vacancy created when Mack Brown stepped down at the end of the season after guiding the Longhorns for 16
years. Other black coaches mentioned as possibilities to fill the position were Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, Stanford's David Shaw, and Vanderbilt's
Sumlin became the first black head football coach at Texas A&M in December 2011 and has guided the Aggies to a 20-6 record and a No. 5 national
ranking in 2012. He signed a new six-year deal with A&M on November 30.
The University of Texas first admitted black undergraduate students in 1956, but they were not allowed to play varsity sports until 1963 when
Austinite James Means, Jr. joined the track team. Means became UT's first Black letterman and the first black athlete in the Southwest Conference. The
Longhorns didn't have their first African-American football player until 1967 in E.A. Curry, a walk-on, who made the freshman team, but left after one
season. In 1968, Leon O'Neal became the team's first scholarship player, but he also only lasted one season. However, that same year offensive lineman
Julius Whittier joined the team and would become Texas' first black football letterman (for three years) and was a three-year starter.
In 1969, Texas fielded the last all-white national championship team, three years after John Westbrook (Baylor) and Jerry LeVias (Southern
Methodist) became the first black football players in the Southwest Conference.
For years, the university has struggled with diversifying its student body and faculty and in June the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case of
Fisher v. Texas, a case in which the school is fighting to uphold its affirmative action admission policies. Strong's hiring is expected to be a large step
towards improving diversity at the school.
"We've got the right football coach," UT President Bill Powers said. "All the things we were looking for are embodied in Charlie Strong. It's
important we reflect the diversity of our state and our country so I think this is a very important moment for our university. It won't be the last. We've
made tremendous strides in diversity over the last decade. A lot of people have worked very hard on that and this is another very important moment for
Strong, a native of Batesville, Ark., was 37-15 at Louisville, his first head coaching position. He attended Central Arkansas State and was a four-year
letterman (1980-83) as a safety. Strong has been highly lauded for his 11 seasons as a defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference, specifically
at the University of Florida on the staff of head coach Urban Meyer for two national championship teams (2006, 2008).
At Louisville, Strong inherited a program that had back-to-back losing seasons (5-7 in 2008, 4-8 in 2009). However, after 7-6 finishes in his first two
seasons with the Cardinals, his teams finished 11-2 and 12-1 and upset No. 4 Florida in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Louisville won two Big East
Conference Championships (2011, 2012) and Strong was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012. He took Louisville to four straight bowl
game appearances, winning three. Prior to his arrival, the Cardinals had won only six bowl games in the program's 100-year history.
Strong Named UT Football Head Coach
First Male African American Head Coach in School's History
3 – On this date in 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill was passed by the U.S. Congress. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands,
better known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was a branch of the U.S. Army created to provide practical aid to 4,000,000 newly freed Black Americans in
their transition from slavery to freedom. The agency also helped whites left homeless by the Civil War. The Bureau operated in Texas from late
September 1865 until July 1870 having its greatest success in the area of education, providing 16 schools for more than a thousand black students.
When the bureau ceased to exist in 1870, there were 150 schools with 9,086 black students.
6 – On this day in 1972, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was born in Newark, New Jersey. His father was a U.S. Army sergeant and O’Neal spent
part of his childhood in Germany, but began standing out on the basketball court at Cole Junior-Senior High School in San Antonio. In 1989, he led
Cole to the 3A state championship and was named national high school Player of the Year. O'Neal played professionally for 19 seasons and won
world championships with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.
6 – Civil Rights activist Dr. Lonnie Smith died on this day in 1971. A native of Yoakum, Smith started a dental practice in Galveston in 1925 after
graduating from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He attempted to vote in the 1940 Democratic Primary but was denied a ballot at his Houston
precinct because voting in was open only to whites. With help from the NAACP, Smith filed a suit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled
in his favor. The ruling opened primary voting to all eligible Texans.
7 – On this day in 1942, the first black cadets graduated from flying school at Tuskegee, Alabama. In June 1943, the first squadron of black aviators,
the 99th Pursuit Squadron, flew its first combat mission, strafing enemy positions on the Italian Island of Pantelleria. There would be 32 Texans who
flew as Tuskegee pilots, and many others from Texas who served in support groups – mechanics, administration, etc.