African descendants 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 (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 Lone Star State -- its infrastructure, image, and culture. For that, the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture is charting every aspect of the black experience in Texas as an online encyclopedia.
Featured Calendar Post for Nov. 27-Dec. 3:
Dec. 5th – Willie M. "Bill" Pickett, the cowboy known as the “Dusky Demon” and inventor of the rodeo sport of bulldogging (steer wrestling), was born on this day in 1870 in Taylor, northeast of Austin. In 1971, Pickett was the first black man elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma. In 1993, the U.S. Postal Service honored him as part of its Legends of the West series of stamps.
Special Report: Afro-Mexicans -- The History, The Culture, The Presence
In this three-part special report, the TIPHC recognizes Cinco de Mayo by looking at the history and range of issues for Mexico's "hidden" population, Afro-Mexicans -- Afro-Mestizos -- now numbering almost 1.5 million. The stories examine the overlapping cultures (food, music, religion, art, etc.) that evolved from the centuries-old presence of Africans in Mexico, beginning in the 16th century (maybe earlier), including their pursuit of official recognition by the Mexican government in the country's census, which finally came in 2015.
Click here for the entries.
Books of interest focusing on black history in Texas. Each week, we feature a different title but also maintain a list of suggested readings.
Established during the era of Jim Crow and a segregated society the Jack Yates and Phillis Wheatley High Schools met in an annual football classic which was the largest attended schoolboy game in America.
The two teams began their yearly play in 1927. The classic battles on Thanksgiving Day didn’t begin until 1935, and they continued on Thanksgiving until 1966.
The Classic was filled with excitement as there were a myriad number of events surrounding the contest. There were marching bands, drill squads, other performing groups, an annual parades, pep-rallies, dances and even a yearly breakfast to celebrate the affair. The halftime ceremonies were as important as the game itself. One of the highlights of halftime was the crowning of the school’s queens.
The Thanksgiving Day Classic came to a swift end with the integration of public schools in Texas, as most 3A high schools began play under the University Interscholastic League (UIL) governance in 1967. The UIL playoff format required that all district games be completed by the second week of November therefore, the Thanksgiving Classic became defunct.
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