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. 19-25:
Feb. 24th – On this day in 1933, jazz saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman was born in Corsicana. Newman grew up in Dallas, graduating from Lincoln High School, then studying theology and music at Jarvis Christian College. For 12 years, beginning in 1954, he was a member of the Ray Charles Band and became the group’s lead tenor soloist. He also played with Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, Hank Crawford, Aaron Neville, and Austin’s Kenny Dorham. In 2005, Newman’s album, "I Remember Brother Ray," was the most played jazz album in the nation. (See TIPHC Bookshelf for "Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State.")
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: "Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State," by Dave Oliphant
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