In honor of the late Dr. Joe L. Atkins who recently passed away in Dallas, we announce the establishment of the Dr. Joe Louis Atkins Commemorative Symposium, to be conducted annually in different venues across Texas. The inaugural 2015 Atkins Symposium will be held later this year in Dallas addressing the historical provenance and appropriate placement of the varied expressions of the Confederate legacy in contemporary Texas.
Dr. Atkins, born in Jefferson, Texas in 1936, was a graduate of Lincoln High School and a member of Juanita Craft’s South Dallas Youth Council from 1952-1954 and a lifelong colleague. He was the plaintiff in Atkins v. Matthews (1956) which desegregated North Texas State College (now University of North Texas), an English and journalism teacher in the Dallas Independent School District, field representative for the Texas State Teachers’ Association, and realtor at Blair White Realtors. Dr. Atkins was a congregant of Good Street Baptist Church and a founder of the Good Street Baptist Church Federal Credit Union.
A lifelong reader of history and social activist, he served on the boards of the African-American Museum of Dallas, The African American Archives and History Program (AAEAHP), NAACP, and the East Texas Historical Association. In 2004, the University of North Texas awarded Atkins an honorary doctorate of humane letters and established an annual scholarship named in his honor. In 2005, the Texas State Conference of State Branches awarded him the Texas NAACP Hero Award. Dr. Atkins was a founding trustee of The Juanita Craft Foundation.
His intelligence, grace and kindness are dearly missed by those who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Marjorie and son Joseph, and to all members of the extended Atkins family.