In honor of Dr. Joe L. Atkins and his wife Marjorie Manney Atkins who both passed away in 2015, The Juanita Craft Foundation has established The Joseph & Marjorie Atkins Commemorative Symposium to be conducted annually in different venues across Texas. The inaugural symposium will be held this coming winter 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 Preservation Dallas, Southern Methodist University, East Texas Historical Association, Texas Historical Commission, and The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Please check back here August 1st, 2017 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 in private business. Dr. Atkins was a congregant of Good Street Baptist Church.
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. The Texas State Conference of NAACP Units awarded him the 2005 Texas NAACP Hero Award. Dr. Atkins was a founding trustee of The Juanita Craft Foundation.
Marjorie Manney 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 both 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 greatly missed.