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 Feb. 12-18:
Feb. 18th – On this day in 1941 sprinter and football player Homer Jones was born in Pittsburg, Tx. Jones attended Texas Southern University and participated in both track and football. He was a member of the 1962 U.S. Track team and clocked 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash, .02 behind the great Bob Hayes. Jones was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1963 but was cut during training camp because of a knee injury, however, he was picked up by the New York Giants. He had a brief, seven-year career, but in 1967 caught 49 passes for 1,209 yards, averaging 24.7 yards per catch, and 13 touchdowns, leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns. For his career, Jones averaged 22.3 yards per catch, leading all receivers with more than 200 recep
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.
This week: "Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War," by Emmett J. Scott
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Scott -- the former personal secretary to Booker T. Washington -- special advisor of black affairs to Secretary of War Newton Baker. Scott wrote reports on conditions facing African Americans during the period, which were published as The American Negro in the World War, Scott's official history of black soldier's participation in World War I. The ground-breaking, wide-ranging study covered every aspect of the participation of black soldiers and citizens in the war effort.
In the book's preface, Scott writes: "The Negro, in the great World War for Freedom and Democracy, has proved to be a notable and inspiring figure. The record and achievements of this racial group, as brave soldiers and loyal citizens, furnish one of the brightest chapters in American history. The ready response of Negro draftees to the Selective Service calls together with the numerous patriotic activities of Negroes generally, gave ample evidence of their whole-souled support and their 100 per cent Americanism. It is difficult to indicate which rendered the greater service to their Country---the 400,000 or more of them who entered active military service (many of whom fearlessly and victoriously fought upon the battlefields of France) or the millions of other loyal members of this race whose useful industry in fields, factories, forests, mines, together with many other indispensable civilian activities, so vitally helped the Federal authorities in carrying the war to a successful conclusion."
Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, whose career included commanding black troops, is quoted, "I cannot commend too highly the spirit shown among the colored combat troops, who exhibit fine capacity for quick training and eagerness for the most dangerous work."
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