Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture

Documenting the complete history of African American Texans

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Know your history, know yourself

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.

 


VICENTE GUERRERO, “MEXICO’S GREATEST MAN OF COLOR”

Vicente GuerreroJimena Duran Castellanos is a native of Hidalgo, Mexico and a junior in the PVAMU School of Architecture. As a project during her 2019 summer internship with the TIPHC, she researched and wrote an essay about Vicente Guerrero, the only African-Mexican president of Mexico and the first black president in the Americas. The essay is also in commemoration of his birthday, August 10.

Guerrero became the country’s second president in 1829 after Mexico won its independence from Spain. As president, he championed the cause not only of the racially oppressed but also of the economically oppressed. His greatest achievement was the abolishment of slavery in Mexico on September 16, 1829. The move would prompt Texans several years later to fight for and gain their independence from Mexico.

Read the essay here.

 


New TIPHC Exhibit!

“Biscuits and Business”
The Legacy of Lucille Smith and Southern Black Chefs

Lucille Smith_biscuits posterIn celebration of Women’s History Month, the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture presents, “Biscuits and Business: The Legacy of Lucille Smith and Southern Black Chefs.” The School of Architecture artist in residence Marlon Hall, and Assistant Professor of Practice, Ann Johnson have collaborated with TIPHC Director Michael Hurd to co-curate an exhibition dedicated to the legacy of chef and entrepreneur Lucille Bishop Smith, who studied and later taught at Prairie View A&M and is noted as the first black businesswoman in Texas.

In 1937, Lucille Smith was invited to design a Domestic Service Training Program for professors and instructors at Prairie View. She went on to develop the first college-level Commercial Foods and Technology Department that was intelligently paired with an apprenticeship program. Smith was the first black woman to join the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and for several years her chili biscuits were served on American Airline flights and were also served at the White House. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Lyndon Johnson and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis were among her friends, fans, and customers.

Lucille Smith

                Lucille Smith

The exhibition at Prairie View will feature original artwork by Ann Johnson, and two documentary shorts by Marlon Hall. Assistant Professor of Art, Renee Smith produced the graphic designs. Johnson’s sculpture students have created unique pieces for the exhibit, and School of Architecture Shop Supervisor Shannon Bryant has assembled an extraordinary team of students that have established the architectural foundation of the exhibition.

The opening reception for “Biscuits and Business” is Thursday, March 28, 2019, from 2-4pm in the TIPHC art gallery, in the Nathelyne Kennedy Architecture Building.

The original Lucille Smith exhibition titled, “Reliquary,” was featured on CBS This Morning, and is on exhibit in the private dining room of Lucille’s restaurant at 5512 LaBranch in Houston. Smith’s great-grandson, chef Chris Williams, opened the restaurant in Lucille’s honor.

 

 

 

 

 


Essay: “The Day Freedom Came”

Texas slaves were the last in the country to be officially notified of their freedom because of the Emancipation Proclamation. Since, June 19th, “Juneteenth,” has become a sacred day for African-American communities internationally to celebrate community pride and heritage.

But what about that day itself, in 1865, before the traditional parades, picnics and other events? What was the mood in Galveston — in Texas(!) — for the first citizens to hear those glorious, infamous for some, words of freedom? In this well-crafted piece from genealogist and educator Sharon Batiste Gillins, a Galveston native, we get the answers to those questions and more.

“In the days and weeks that led up to the 19th of June, the newspapers were filled with the latest stories, reports and editorials about the end of the War, the beginning of the peace and the imminent freedom of the enslaved Africans. On June 14th. Galveston Daily News reported that Federal troops would soon arrive in Galveston. The announcement quickly spread throughout the white and black community and the city’s residents were overcome with a curious mix of anticipation and anxiety. Uncertainty permeated the air as they contemplated the consequences of the War’s end and the arrival of Federal troops into the city. Each segment of the population experienced a different set of emotions, the unknown and imagined consequences dissected in print from every angle. That is, every angle except that of the enslaved people whose destiny and very lives would be most impacted.”

Read the entire essay here.

DVD: “Juneteenth, A Celebration of Freedom”

On June 19, 1865 at Galveston, Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced that the Civil War had ended and all slaves in the former Confederate states were now free. This was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. However, the enslaved in Texas had never received the news of their freedom.

This DVD, produced by the TIPHC, provides an insightful perspective about this significant day in American history that is often misunderstood and overlooked. This is a compelling program that is popular with school classes and community groups alike.

To order your copy — $15.00 — please contact the TIPHC, 936-261-9836.

For a preview, click here.


Genealogy: Civil Rights history and the family of Judge Willie E.B. Blackmon

The former Houston Municipal Court judge recounts his family’s involvement in two prominent Civil Rights cases, Hall v. DeCuir and Brown v. Board of Education. Read his story here.


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“We have a wonderful history behind us. … If you are unable to demonstrate to the world that you have this record, the world will say to you, ‘You are not worthy to enjoy the blessings of democracy or anything else’.”  

Carter G. Woodson, historian  — “The Father of Black History Month”

Support TIPHC Programming and Research

Donate Now

Your donations support research, exhibits, documentaries, internships, cultural events, lecture series, film screenings, Journal of History and Culture publications, outreach and much more. For more information on how you can donate to TIPHC, please contact Mr. Michael Hurd, Director of TIPHC, at (936) 261-9836 or mdhurd@pvamu.edu.

Texas Black History Calendar
Featured Calendar Post

Oct. 13

Britt Johnson

On this day in 1864 the Elm Creek Raid occurred, during which a band of several hundred Kiowa and Comanche Indians raided a settlement in the Elm Creek Valley (northwest of Dallas and South of Wichita Falls) where Britt Johnson, a ranch foreman and former slave, and his family lived. During the raid, Johnson’s son, Jubal, was among several settlers killed. Johnson’s wife, Mary, and two daughters were among the hostages taken into Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Johnson spent the next year traveling into the Territory and finally locating his family. Johnson worked with Comanche Chief Asa-Havey to pay a ransom and regain his family. The story of Johnson’s quest (fact or fiction) was the inspiration for Alan LeMay’s 1954 novel, The Searchers, which director John Ford would turn into a movie of the same name in 1956 starring John Wayne.


TIPHC Bookshelf

Books of interest focusing on black history in Texas. Each week, we feature a different title but also maintain a list of suggested readings.

Oct. 13-19, 2019

Buffalo Soldiers in the West, A Black Soldiers Anthology

Edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles

In the decades following the Civil War, scores of African Americans served in the U.S. Army in the West. The Plains Indians dubbed them buffalo soldiers, and their record in the infantry and cavalry, a record full of dignity and pride, provides one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the era. This anthology focuses on the careers and accomplishments of black soldiers, the lives they developed for themselves, their relationships to their officers (most of whom were white), their specialized roles (such as that of the Black Seminoles), and the discrimination they faced from the very whites they were trying to protect. In short, this volume offers important insights into the social, cultural, and communal lives of the buffalo soldiers.


 

Ron Goodwin Blog

Musings on contemporary black history-related topics from the noted PVAMU history professor.

Football is still football

October 14th, 2019|Comments Off on Football is still football

Since we’re into the football season I thought it was time to interject my two cents. I’ve noticed several teams starting black quarterbacks these days. Some because of injury, but others have been under center since training camp. By my count, the first weekend of the National Football League season in September saw nine African Americans as their respective teams’ starting quarterback. That’s pretty good, I believe, given the (Colin) Kaepernick hub-bub a few years

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