In honor of the late Dr. Joe L. Atkins who passed away July 2015 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 2016 Atkins Symposium will be held this spring in Dallas addressing the historical context and appropriate display of the numerous and varied expressions of the Confederate legacy in contemporary Texas. The organizers include the East Texas Historical Association, Texas Historical Commission and Southern Methodist University among others. Please check back here starting March 1, 2016 for symposium details and registration.
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 becoming a lifelong colleague of Juanita Craft. 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 then a 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Marjorie Manney Atkins and their son Joseph, and to all members of the extended Atkins family.