Texas Historical Marker Dedication

Join us for a special gathering of “Craft’s Kids” as we dedicate the Texas Historical Commission marker for the Juanita Craft Civil Rights House this coming October. Following the Craft marker dedication, A Service of Remembrance, Grace & Gratitude will be conducted at the adjoining St. Matthew’s Baptist Church. A reception with refreshments will follow the service. Check back here on Friday, September 19th for the date, program details and Eventbrite registration. Come prepared to celebrate the life and legacy of Juanita Craft and her peers – a group of remarkable Texans who took up the mantle of leadership during the crucible years of the modern civil rights movement.

Craft Reconsidered: Autumn, 2014

Craft Reconsidered: The Noble Life hosted by The Juanita Craft Foundation, The Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches and BlackPast.org will be conducted later this year in Dallas. Check back here for dates, program details and Eventbrite registration beginning September 25, 2014. This symposium will bring together individuals from political, civic, labor and faith organizations to provide vivid, first-person insights into working with Juanita Craft and her contemporaries in conjunction with historians and journalists providing commentary and perspective.

The Craft Reconsidered weekend of fellowship and exploration will begin with a dinner program on a Thursday evening entitled “The Life and legacy of W.J. Durham: Lawyer. Crusader. Gentleman.” The fascinating history and contemporary ramifications of Durham and his colleagues work on the Smith v Allwright (April 3 1944), Sweatt v Painter (June 5 1950) and McLaurin v Oklahoma (June 5 1950) Supreme Court rulings which set the stage for Brown v Topeka (May 17 1954) will be addressed. Juanita Craft, A. Maceo Smith and their peers in the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches were deeply involved in these cases crafted by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The formal symposium will commence the following Saturday from 8:45 am – 11:15 am with The Craft of Politics: “We will change this!”, a moderated roundtable comprised of former and current political and appointed officeholders and executive staff members who worked directly with Juanita Craft in the political sphere. A panel of journalists, historians and political scientists will provide commentary.

Historian Bruce A. Glasrud will then deliver the keynote presentation at the luncheon from 11:45 am – 1:00 pm addressing “Anti-Black Violence in 20th Century Texas”.

The first afternoon session running from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm is “The fight is on!”: Craft, the NAACP and the Campaigns for First-Class Citizenship in the Texas Region is a moderated roundtable with members of the NAACP, NAACP Youth Councils and other organizations who worked with Juanita Craft in her battle against Jim Crow and its nuanced heirs. The second session, “Call & Response: The Faith Communities of Texas in the Age of Jim Crow” addresses the response of Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Unitarian congregations to American apartheid. Panelists in both sessions will be joined by journalists and scholars providing commentary.

In convening this broad mix of participants within the structure of a formal seminar, the organizers seek to enrich the primary historical record and inspire more scholarship in 20th century Texas Freedom Movements. Proceedings of Craft Reconsidered will be filmed and made available at http://www.juanitacraft.org.

Concurrent with the seminar, oral histories with those who knew Juanita Craft will be conducted.

We look forward to your joining us in Dallas as we journey together through this inspiring history.

I had no children so I adopted the world. – Juanita Craft

Standing on the shoulders of those who came before her, and stoking the fire for those who would follow, Juanita Jewel Craft (1902-1985) was an iconic civil rights and social justice reformer in the long-battle for first-class citizenship for African-American and other oppressed communities across 20th century Texas. Born forty years after The Emancipation Proclamation, Craft took up the mantle of leadership during the crucible years of the modern civil rights movement and left in her wake a more humane society. She vigorously advocated a post-racial vision for America, one of the earliest public figures in this region to do so.

The ability to surmount cultural, ethnic and social barriers and gather people together on the common field of their humanity was Juanita Craft’s special gift. A unique and beloved public figure, she bequeathed both her home at 2618 Warren Avenue in South Dallas and an extensive historical estate to the public so that future generations may come to understand the power of service to community and nation by individual citizens who rise to meet the continuing challenges of social inequality and economic suppression.    

The Juanita Craft Foundation honors our namesake primarily in three ways.

The Craft Historic Community Planned Development District, a collection of public history facilities, interpretive gardens and community service officing nestled around the Juanita Craft Civil Rights House in the Wheatley Place National Register District in Dallas, is currently in the conceptualization and planning stage. The Craft Civil Rights House – a functioning house museum since 1993 owned by the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department – is the centerpiece of the Craft Historic Community and was the residence of Juanita Craft from 1950 to 1985. The 1920’s era Craftsman bungalow was the organizational epicenter of major social justice campaigns in support of mid-century Texas Freedom Movements. Upon completion, the Craft Historic Community will be only one of two such districts at this scale honoring figures from the 20th century civil rights and social justice movements, the other being the Martin Luther King National Historic District in Atlanta.     

The second focus of the Foundation is designing and conducting signature conferences, symposia and roundtables addressing fascinating yet understudied subjects within the field of 20th century Texas Freedom Movements. A number of events are being actively planned for the 2014-2015 program year.

The third initiative is an ambitious archival collection program modeled on the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas at El Paso. The Juanita Craft & Lulu White Oral/Materials History Consortium will focus on collecting and accessioning mid-century Texas Freedom Movement materials with permanent conveyance to a major archive. 

The Juanita Craft Foundation, her partners and collaborators are committed to deepening the current historiography, identifying areas for inquiry, broadening the availability of primary materials and encouraging scholarship in movement studies across the Texas region. The Foundation endeavors to encourage more accounts in this field of study for incorporation into the broader national account. In so doing, we seek to enrich the constantly evolving master narrative of the civil rights and social justice histories referenced by academics, journalists and informed generalists across the United States. 

Join us on our journey through this inspiring history.