Dallas' Historic Juanita Craft's House Needs Our Help — and Our Immediate Attention

Wednesday morning I was running down some South Dallas stories when, two random left turns later, I found myself on Warren Street, in front of Juanita Craft's house. That's how most people find the place these days, I imagine — accidentally — seeing as how the late civil rights icon's home, a local and state and national landmark, is gutted and shuttered and has been for more than a year. A sign along Malcolm X Boulevard points toward the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House, but if you drive there intentionally, you're bound for a brief and disappointing visit.I haven't gone inside the white house, which belonged to the first black woman to vote in Dallas, since a sprinkler pipe burst in the attic over Memorial Day 2018. When last I was there, shards of ceiling covered the floor, and it smelled of mildew and ruin. "Total devastation," lamented activist and educator Marilyn Clark that gruesome May afternoon as I stepped into the house where President Jimmy Carter, musician Duke Ellington, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (then a young attorney), First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and others titans of history long ago spent countless hours plotting better tomorrows. A peek through the side windows, the only thing possible now, reveals a house stripped to the bone -- a wooden shell from top to bottom. The only things visible are the kitchen sink and a bathtub. And chairs sit stacked on the enclosed front porch, which is wrapped with a long sheet of paper that's decorated with a brief history of the house and the woman who lived there from 1950 until her death in 1985.   Continue reading...

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