Hidden History DFW
|Posted on September 26, 2019 at 8:10 PM|
The 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, according to history was a world’s fair at the State Fair in Dallas, TX. The exposition was presented from June 6 thru November 29 of that year. This exposition was a way for Texas to celebrate its 100th anniversary of its independence from Mexico in 1836. It also celebrated other cultures.
Early in the planning stages of the exposition, African American representation was called for by the NAACP, the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce, and other black organizations. The world would see the African American contribution to the country and the history of African Americans in Texas.
Noted African Americans nationally and locally participated in the planning and creation of the exhibition. Three notable men were Eugene K. Jones, chairman of the federal Negro Advisory Committee, A. Maceo Smith and Maynard Jackson, Sr.
Mr. Jones was the general manager and A. Maceo Smith, a leader in Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce and a high school principal, was the assistant general manager. Maynard Jackson Sr. was a Baptist minister, and along with A. Maceo Smith, organized the Progressive Citizens League which later became the Progressive Voter League.
The state would not provide funding for the hall because an African American candidate was not pulled from a legislature race. The hall's leadership was not discouraged. Since the state would not provide funding, African Americans made contributions and the leadership turned to the federal government for funding and was awarded.
The Hall of Negro Life was completed, and the exhibit formal dedication was June 19, 1936; JUNETEENTH.
The hall had six exhibits showcasing: Business and Industry, Art, Mechanical Arts, Agriculture, Health, and Education. It also had an outdoor amphitheater and an area called “Little Harlem,” consisting of a restaurant, dining rooms, and dance pavilion.
Every visitor received DuBois's “What the Negro Has Done for the United States and Texas” pamphlet upon entry. The hall had approximately 400,000 visitors. At that time African Americans were only allowed to visit the state fair on one day; Negro Achievement Day on Juneteenth.
The Hall of Negro Life existed on the State Fair grounds for one year.
Because of the success of the centennial, Dallas leaders decided that another exposition would be good. It was the Pan American Exposition. The new exposition would be the detriment of the Hall of Negro Life. City leaders determined that the hall did not meet with the new exposition theme and got permission from VP John Nance Garner to demolish the hall.
From 1937 until the 1990s there was no African American presence on the State Fair grounds. In the 90s there was a push to have an African American presence on the fair ground and the African American Museum of Dallas was built on the land that once held the Hall of Negro Life.
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|Posted on July 17, 2018 at 6:45 PM|
The Historical “Green Book”
Traveling with Peace of Mind and Self Respect
Did you know that Dallas has one of the few remaining “Green Book” landmarks that provided a safe haven for African-American travelers, by automobile, in Dallas during segregation? That place is the old Moorland Branch YMCA which is now the home of the Black Dallas Dance Theater right in the middle of Dallas’ Arts District; 2700 Ann Williams Way, Dallas, TX 75201. This building has a state historical marker indicating its legacy.
What is this green book? Many people young and old do not know the history of this book because it is not needed today. But that was not the case during the era of segregation. According the Jacinda Townsend, the author of the article “How the Green Book Helped African-American Tourists Navigate a Segregated Nation”, "Traveling by car in the era of segregation, the open road presented serious dangers. Driving interstate distances to unfamiliar locales, black motorists ran into institutionalized racism in a number of pernicious forms, from hotels and restaurants that refused to accommodate them to hostile “sundown towns,” where posted signs might warn people of color that they were banned after nightfall.”
Getting gas or using the restroom could lead to a life or death situation. “It didn’t matter if you were Lena Horne or Duke Ellington or Ralph Bunche traveling state to state, if the road was not friendly or obliging,” according to playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey, you could be in trouble.
Thus the green book. The visionary entrepreneur and creator Victor H. Green, a 44-year-old black postal carrier in Harlem, relied on his own experiences and on recommendations from black members of his postal service union for the inaugural guide bearing his name, The Negro Motorist Green-Book, in 1937.
The green book listed hotels, restaurants and other businesses open to African-Americans, providing a safety net to guide them during their travel, by car, during the Jim-Crow era.
"Not only was the green book beneficial to African-American automobile travelers, they were also indispensable to African-American businesses.", according to Smithsonian curator Joanne Hyppolite.
"There will be a day sometime in the future when this guide will not have to be published," Green wrote in the introduction to multiple editions. "That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication, because then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year."
The Green-Book final edition, in 1966-67, filled 99 pages and embraced the entire nation and even some international cities. This was after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This historical building housing the Black Dallas Dance Theater was also the political headquarters for civil rights planning meetings and a cultural and social center for the black community.
Thank you Dallas for keeping African American history alive.
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|Posted on May 25, 2018 at 6:15 PM|
The nineteenth of June, affectionately referred to as Juneteenth, is celebrated throughout Texas and the country. Although recognition is now held on the national level, its misunderstood history is often hidden or distorted in the public media.
Smithsonian Magazine once called Juneteenth the most “significant event in American history after the independence itself”. The article goes on to state, “For centuries, slavery was the dark stain on America’s soul, the deep contradiction to the nation’s founding ideals of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and “All men are created equal.” When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, he took a huge step toward erasing that stain. But the full force of his proclamation would not be realized until June 19, 1865—Juneteenth, as it was called by slaves in Texas freed that day.”
Because news of slaves’ freedom traveled slowly, or not at all, the Union army traveled throughout the South to spread the word. On June 19, 1865, with the arrival of General Gordon Granger and more than 2,000 Union troops, the people of Texas were informed that all slaves were free.
What was read by General Granger was not the Emancipation Proclamation, but GENERAL ORDER NO. 3. The order begins: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
With the assistance of General Granger and the 2,000 Union troops, General Order No. 3 was read in every county in the state of Texas. In addition to the reading, it was nailed to the courthouse doors. Many of the documents were torn down and destroyed after the reading making any remaining copy of General Order No. 3 a rare find.
The Dallas Historical Society is providing a viewing of the only known remaining copy of General Order No. 3 at the Hall of State - Fair Park on June 16-25. This document was given to the Limestone County town of Mexia, Texas.
Bookings and more information about Hidden History DFW Tours is available at www.hiddenhistorydfw.com.
For more information on the article JUNETEENTH: OUR OTHER INDEPENDENCE DAY go to https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/juneteenth-our-other-independence-day-16340952/.
The Hall of State-Fair Park is located inside the Fair Park. Its address is 3939 E Grand Ave, Dallas, TX 75210.
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