Know Your History! Juanita Craft

By: Nevaeh Richardson

Did you know that the State Fair of Texas once had a policy of admitting Blacks only on “Negro Achievement Day?” Well, they did, and this woman helped put an end to that. Learn about renowned politician and civil rights activist Juanita Craft in this week’s “Know Your History” feature.

Juanita Craft was born Juanita Jewel Shanks on February 9, 1902 in Round Rock, Texas. She was the granddaughter of former slaves, and the only child of schoolteachers David Sylvestus and Eliza Balfour Shanks. Craft was raised by her mother until she died in 1918. After her mother’s death, Craft moved to Columbus, Texas to be with her father. After graduating high school in 1919, Craft attended Prairie View A&M University where she studied sewing and millinery. After two years at Prairie View, she moved back to Austin, Texas and received her teaching certificate from Samuel Huston College. (Samuel Huston College officially merged with Tillotson College to form Huston-Tillotson College, which became the sole provider of higher education for African Americans in Central Texas until the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.) By 1925, Craft was working as a maid at the Adolphus Hotel and later as a seamstress.

Craft joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1935, eventually becoming the Dallas NAACP membership chairman in 1942 and the Texas NAACP field organizer in 1946. She helped to organize 182 branches of the NAACP over 11 years. In 1944, Craft became the first Black woman in Dallas County to vote in a public election. In 1955, she organized a protest of the State Fair of Texas against its policy of admitting Blacks only on “Negro Achievement Day.” Craft also assisted in the organization of protests and pickets in segregated lunch counters, restaurants, theaters and public transportation.

Following the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Craft worked to integrate the University of Texas Law School and the Dallas Independent School District. She attempted to help enroll the first Black student at North Texas State College (Now the University of North Texas), a battle eventually won through litigation. She later served two terms on the Dallas City Council from 1975 and 1979. Craft became a towering historic figure in the Civil Rights Movement in Texas, and was given many awards for her efforts, including the NAACP Golden Heritage Life Membership Award in 1978 and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award in 1984. Craft was recognized by the NAACP for her 50 years of service shortly before her death at the age of 83 on August 6, 1985.

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top