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 Jan. 22-28:
23rd -- John Saunders Chase, Jr. was born on this day in 1925 in Annapolis, Md. On June 7, 1950, when Chase enrolled at the University of Texas, the school became the first major university in the South to enroll an African-American. Chase earned a Master of Architecture degree in 1952 and became the first African-American graduate of the university. That same year, Chase became the first licensed African-American architect in Texas and was the only black architect licensed in the state for almost a decade.
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 book contains two volumes of African American folk tales collected by J. Mason Brewer.
The stories included in Dog Ghosts are as varied as the Texas landscape, as full of contrasts as Texas weather. Among them are tales that have their roots deeply imbedded in African, Irish, and Welsh mythology; others have parallels in pre-Columbian Mexican tradition, and a few have versions that can be traced back to Chaucer's England. All make delightful reading. The title Dog Ghosts is drawn from the unique stories of dog spirits which Dr. Brewer collected in the Red River bottoms and elsewhere in Texas.
The Word on the Brazos is a delightful collection of "preacher tales" from the Brazos River bottom in Texas. J. Mason Brewer worked side by side with field hands in the Brazos bottoms; he lived in their homes, worshipped in their churches, and shared the moments of relaxation in which laughter held full sway.
Many of the tales these people told were related to religion—both "good religion" and "bad religion." Some of them concerned preachers and their families, while others were stories told in pulpits. Mr. Brewer has set all of these stories down in authentic yet easily readable dialect. They will delight all who are interested in the historic culture of rural African-American Texans, as well as those who simply enjoy fine humorous stories skillfully told.
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