To honor Dr. Joe L. Atkins and his wife Marjorie Manning Atkins who both passed away in 2015, we announce establishment of the Atkins Commemorative Symposium to be conducted annually in different venues across Texas. The inaugural 2016 Atkins Commemorative Symposium will be held this autumn 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, Briscoe Center for American History and Southern Methodist University amongst others. Please check back here starting September 1, 2016 for symposium details and registration.
Dr. Atkins, born in Jefferson, Texas in 1936, was a graduate of Lincoln High School, University of Texas at El Paso (B.A.) and University of North Texas (M.A.). He was president of Juanita Craft’s South Dallas Youth Council from 1952-1954 and was the plaintiff in Atkins v. Matthews (1956) which desegregated North Texas State College (now University of North Texas). After service in the U.S. Army, he taught English and journalism in the Dallas Independent School District then served as field representative for the Texas State Teachers’ Association followed by a career as a realtor. 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 committed social activist, Atkins 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.
Marjorie Manning Atkins, born in Houston, Texas in 1939, was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and received both her B.S and M.Ed. from Prairie View A&M University. Ms. Atkins taught in the Houston and Dallas Independent School districts, and was an active member of Delta Sigma Theta and numerous other philanthropic organizations.
The Atkins’ intelligence, grace and kindness are dearly missed.