Black History Month 2021

Black History Month: North Texas

Black History Month graphic

The Origins of Black History Month

Black History Month is a celebration of Black culture, art and historical accomplishments of Black Americans. Many may not know its origins but according to Darryl Michael Scott, Professor of History at Howard University and Vice President of Program for Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH,) the concept of Black History Month began in Chicago in 1915 where Dr. Carter G. Woodson was visiting to participate in the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the emancipation. The celebration consisted of exhibits highlighting the achievements of Black people since the end of slavery. The coliseum holding the exhibition could not contain the crowd, and thousands of people waited outside for their turn to view the exhibits over the three-week celebration.

Dr. Woodson was inspired by the outpouring of interest and the thirst people had to know more about Black success. As a result, he formed an organization to promote the scientific study of Black life and history which led to the formation of the ASALH. Dr. Woodson continued to champion the study and publication of the achievements of Black intellectuals for years. Multiple organizations and publications embraced his mission to keep information flowing about the Black past. Ultimately, the ASALH announced in a press release that Negro History Week would take place in February 1926.

Over the next 50 years, Negro History Week continued to grow. Support expanded throughout the United States in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In 1976, 50 years after the first Negro History Week celebration, the ASALH used its influence to shift from Negro History Week to Black History Month. Click here to read the complete history of the origins of Black History Month.

Scott, D. M. (2017, May 30). The founders of Black History Month:
Origins of Black History Month. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from
https://asalh.org/about-us/origins-of-black-history-month/

North Texas Historical Sites:

African American Museum - 3536 Grand Ave, Dallas, TX
www.aamdallas.org
The African American Museum of Dallas houses African artifacts, folk art, furniture, and decorative pieces related to the African American experience. The museum showcases history through ongoing exhibits such as Facing the Rising Sun, which highlights a former North Dallas Freedman's Town, and the Billy R. Allen Folk Art Collection, which includes one of the nation's largest collections of Black folk art with more than 500 objects. The museum also hosts special exhibits, lectures, workshops, and music festivals aimed to educate the public about the life, struggles and achievements of African Americans.

Bill Pickett Statue - 121 East Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth, TX
The Bill Pickett Statue is a bronze structure that commemorates the world-famous Black cowboy Willie M. (Bill) Pickett. Willie M. (Bil) Pickett invented the sport of bulldogging or “kissing the bull”. Pickett was the first black man inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Bill Pickett Statue is the first statue to honor a black rodeo cowboy.

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts - 2501 Flora St, Dallas, TX
www.dallasisd.org/bookert
In 1922, Booker T. Washington High School replaced the 1892 Dallas Colored High School. Due to segregation, this school accommodated all Blacks in the Dallas County area, often resulting in overcrowding. After integrating in 1976, Booker T. Washington High School became a magnet school for artistically gifted students. The school hosts cultural events throughout the year.

Deep Ellum - roughly bounded by Elm Street, Trunk Ave, Commerce Street and Hawkins Street
www.deepellumtexas.com
The district is considered the most historic of numerous Black districts in Dallas since it began in the early 20th century. This particular district claimed its fame through great Blues music starting in the 1920s. The eclectic district originally housed Black residents. Now, the district is filled with art galleries, street murals, and concert venues. Blues musicians, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, and Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins, played in Deep Ellum clubs in the 1920s.

Freedman’s Cemetery Memorial - 2525 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX
The Freedman’s Cemetery was established in 1869. It was a burial ground for formerly enslaved people. Due to vandalism, the cemetery closed in the 1920s. A decade later, the state constructed an expressway and intersection that destroyed the plaques and markers of most graves. In the late 1980s, the city planned to expand the Central Expressway. However, community members responded and successfully halted freeway construction. More than a thousand cemetery sites were evacuated and relocated. To commemorate those originally buried and their history, sculptures and poems were placed around the perimeter.

Hamilton Park Neighborhood - Forest Lane at Schroeder, Dallas, TX
Hamiliton Park is a 175-acre neighborhood. It was first developed in 1953 and was one of the first suburbs in Texas built explicitly for African Americans.

James E. Guinn School - 1200 South Freeway, Fort Worth, TX
http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/md/guinn.htm
James E. Guinn, the son of former slaves, grew up in Fort Worth and was educated in the city’s earliest school for African Americans. After serving as a professor at Prairie View College, Guinn returned to Fort Worth in 1900 to become the principal of South Side Colored School, the city’s first African American public school. The school was later rebuilt and renamed for Guinn after his death in 1917. The James E. Guinn School now houses the Business Assistance Center of Fort Worth.

Juanita Craft House - 2618 Warren Avenue, Dallas, TX
www.juanitacrafthouse.org
Juanita Craft’s permitted her house of 50 years to serve as a civil rights school. Juanita served as a Dallas NAACP precinct chairperson for 25 years (1902-1985). Despite personal risks, she organized rural NAACP chapters across Texas in 1940-50s. She helped desegregate the University of Texas Law School, North Texas State University, State Fair of Texas, Dallas lunch counters, theaters and restaurants. Juanita Craft was the first black woman to vote in Dallas and was a national delegate to the 1976 Democratic Convention. She was elected to the Dallas City Council at the age of 73. The Juanita Craft House is open to the public through free admission. The Juanita Craft House is open Tuesday – Friday at 10 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

Knights of Pythias Temple - 2551 Elm Street, Dallas, TX
In its day, the Knights of Pythias Temple was considered a near skyscraper. In 1915, the structure was constructed by black craftsmen, in the Knights of Pythias, as their state headquarters. The building was designed by William S. Pittman, the 1st Black architect in Dallas. Since 1989, the Knights of Pythias Temple has been designated as a Dallas Historical Landmark.

Lincoln High School - Malcolm X Blvd & Hatcher Street, Dallas, TX
www.dallasisd.org/lincoln
Lincoln High School first opened in 1939. It is one of Dallas’ oldest schools for African Americans. The school is now known as the Lincoln High School and Humanities/Communications Magnet.

Queen City Heights Historical District - Roughly bounded by Eugene, Cooper, Latimer, Kynard and Dildock
Queen City Heights was at the heart of the historic South Dallas African American community. The Queen City Heights Historical District was initially a settled farmer community called Prairie during the Reconstruction. The district attracted working-class Black families in the 20th century. Throughout the area, particular housing styles continue to dominate the area, such as Craftsman, Bungalow and Shotgun housing. The Queen City Heights Historical District is listed in the National Register.

Romine Avenue Historic District - Romine Avenue between Octavia and Latimer Streets, Dallas, TX
The Romie Avenue Historic District in South Dallas was built for African Americans in early 20th century. In the district, seventeen houses were built between 1928 and 1940. They were the first to be constructed of brick and stone and were historically occupied by prominent educators, hotel proprietors and Pullman Porters.

St. Paul United Methodist Church - 1816 Routh Street, Dallas, TX
www.stpaulumcdallas.com
The St. Paul United Methodist Church was built in 1873. The church is a Texas Historic Landmark and one of the oldest African American congregations in Dallas and the oldest community presence in the Dallas Arts District. The church’s structure is formed of red-brick and contains sharp geometric structures, such as high archways and stained-glass windows, mimicking the clean designs of Renaissance churches. Many of these features parallel the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, linking the two churches together. The church stands across from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The St. Paul United Methodist Church attracts tourists through its music events and displays of archeological items that commemorate the story of the church and Dallas' Freedman's Town.

Tenth Street Historic District - Bounded by Clarendon, Fleming, 35E Freeway, 8th and Plum, Dallas, TX
www.atlas.thc.state.tx.us/Details/5507018318
The Tenth Street Historic District is the oldest relatively intact Freedmen’s Town in Dallas, with many of its original buildings still standing. The district was considered a starter neighborhood for African Americans soon after the Emancipation period. Most of the remaining historic houses were built between 1890 and the early 1940’s in various folk designs such as Shotgun, Double Shotgun and Camel Back. These modest houses showcase the indicative skill and artistry of Black craftspeople.

Universal Life Insurance Building - 1800 Routh Street, Dallas, TX
The Universal Life Insurance Building is a historic location in Dallas. The Black life insurance company was next to St. Paul CME Church. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed for a new development, without installing a notable monument in its place.

Wheatley Place Historic District - bounded by Warren, Atlanta, McDermott, Meadow, Oakland and Dathe Streets, Dallas, TX
Named for the poet Phyllis Wheatley, the Wheatley Place Historic District consists mostly of wood frame bungalows dating from 1916 to the mid-1930s. It is one of Dallas’ first planned residential areas for black families. The district attracted Black ministers and business leaders. Wheatley Place Historic District was deliberately constructed to segregate African American housing in Dallas in the early 20th century.

Dallas historic sites: Soul of America: Dallas. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2021,
from https://soulofamerica.com/us-cities/dallas/dallas-historic-sites/

Merchant, F. (2020, July 08). Discover these 8 African American history sites in Dallas. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.thc.texas.gov/historic-road-trips/discover-these-8-african-american-history-sites-dallas

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