Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 16, Number 01, Spring, 2004 Page: 17
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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Desegregating the State Fair of Texas
BY RACHEL NORTHINGTON BURROW
uring the fall of 1955, as Dallas and the rest
of the nation were just beginning to grapple
seriously with the issue of racial discrimination,
civil rights leader Juanita Craft and the
Dallas NAACP Youth Council took the bold
step of challenging a formidable local and state
institution, the State Fair of Texas.
As Texas state organizer for the National
Association of Colored People during the 1940s,
Juanita Craft believed much of the future of the
NAACP lay with black youth. In 1946, therefore,
she agreed to undertake responsibilities as
youth council director for the Texas State
Conference of Branches, NAACP The youth
councils educated young African Americans
about the civil rights movement and trained
them as future NAACP members, while at the
same time entertaining them with dances, parties,
and other social activities. Youth council
members were students and non-students from
twelve to twenty-one years of age. Annual membership
dues were fifty cents.'
For more than three decades, Mrs. Craft
worked directly with the black youths of Dallas
as advisor to the Dallas NAACPYouth Council,
a position voted on each year by the young people.
The youths loved and respected Mrs. Craft,
and her boundless energy and intense interest in
young people equipped her well for the task.
Her physical presence exuded confidence and
determination, which she instilled in her youths.
Her large size and aristocratic manner cut an
impressive figure and conveyed a sense of selfassurance
and pride. A tall, solidly-built woman
with thick, heavy legs, Mrs. Craft carried herself
with such dignity that she commanded a measure
of respect in return. She was intelligent and
well-informed and spoke articulately on a broad
range of subjects.
The youths listened to her; she didn't raise
her voice or lose composure, but maintained a
calm, reasoning posture. They enjoyed being
around her, and her modest home in South Dallas
became a gathering place for young African
Americans in Dallas. Juanita Craft was fun and
adventuresome and eager to take on challenges.
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 16, Number 01, Spring, 2004, periodical, 2004; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35092/m1/19/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.