This Week in Texas Black History -- Apr. 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 (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 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
21 -- This date marks the commemoration of the song The Yellow Rose of Texas. The song grew out of the Battle of San Jacinto when Texas forces led
by Sam Houston defeated the Mexican troops of Gen. Santa Anna in 1836 and won Texas’ independence from Mexico. The song is a tribute to a
woman (Emily West) who supposedly “entertained” the Mexican general, delaying his preparations for the battle, while the Texians successfully
attacked and defeated his army in an 18-minute skirmish. However, the woman’s true identity and actual role, if any, in the battle is the subject of
great debate. Generally, she is thought to have been a light-skinned mulatto, but other theories say she was Hispanic. The songs’ composer is also a
mystery, though its original lyrics seem to suggest a black man:
There's a yellow rose in Texas
That I am going to see
No other darky (sic) knows her
No one only me
She cryed (sic) so when I left her
It like to broke my heart
And if I ever find her
We nevermore will part.
23 – On this date in 2004, Earl Pearson, then a 28-year veteran of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was named chief of the Texas Ranger
Division. With his promotion, Pearson became the first black Senior Ranger Captain and the first black DPS division chief. Pearson grew up in Rotan.
23 – On this day in 1928, black college football great Odie Posey was born in Austin. Posey, a running back, graduated from Phillis Wheatley High
School in San Antonio and then attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. on a tennis scholarship. Posey teamed with Harold Jones in 1947
to capture the Prairie View Interscholastic League 2A Boys’ Double state championship title. At Southern, Posey became the best running back in
school history. His 1,399-yards rushing total in 1949 led the nation (NCAA Division II) and still stands as the highest single-season mark in school
history. During his four years at Southern, the Jaguars were 46-2-2 (undefeated, 12-0, in 1948), won three Black College National Championships,
four Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and two bowl games, including the 1948 Fruit Bowl Championship against San Francisco State
University. Posey was a four-time Pittsburgh Courier All-American and a four-year All-SWAC selection.
24 – On this date in 1944, The United Negro College Fund was incorporated with 27 member schools (now 38). Mary Branch, president of Tillotson
College in Austin, helps to establish the organization. The UNCF’s mission is to enhance the quality of education by raising operating funds for their
member colleges and universities, providing financial support to deserving students, and increasing access to technology for students and faculty at
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Both The Non-Profit Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy have ranked UNCF among the
top 10 charitable educational organizations in the country.
25 – Robert Leon Wormley, who opened the first black-owned insurance agency (Wormley-Mitchell & Associates) in Austin in 1954, died on this day
at age 82 in 2010. A Minneapolis, Minn. native, Wormley was a Civil Rights activist who helped picket businesses that practiced segregation and
worked to improve life for Austin's black community. He worked on poverty issues for Govs. Preston Smith and John Connelly. Wormley was the
first black member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Austin.