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 July 17-23:
July 22nd – On this day in 1944, Dr. Lawrence Nixon, an El Paso physician, voted in the Democratic primary, the first black voter in the state to do so. The Texas legislature had passed a law in 1923 forbidding blacks from voting in the primary. However, Nixon, working with the NAACP, challenged the law and attempted to vote on July 26, 1924 and was refused a ballot. Twice the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, however, the state Democratic Party found legal loopholes (including asserting the party was a private organization and could set restrictions on who could vote) to continue preventing blacks from voting in the primary. Finally, as a result of the Court’s ruling in Smith v. Allwright (where Lonnie Smith had brought a similar suit in Harris County), the all-white primary was ended on April 3, 1944 enabling blacks to vote in the primary. The Court ruled that a primary was an election and a political party was an agency of the state and thus could not discriminate by race.
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.
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