Juanita Craft

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Juanita J. Craft
Born Juanita Jewel Shanks
(1902-02-09)February 9, 1902
Round Rock, Texas
Died August 6, 1985(1985-08-06) (aged 83)
Nationality American
Occupation NAACP organizer
Awards Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award;
NAACP Golden Heritage Life Membership Award

Juanita Craft (born Juanita Jewel Shanks February 9, 1902-August 6, 1985) was an American civil rights pioneer and member of the Dallas City Council in Texas.[1]

Life[edit]

Born in Round Rock, Texas, Craft came to Dallas from the Austin area in 1925, being employed as a maid at the Adolphus Hotel and later as a seamstress.

She joined the 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 eleven years.[2]

In 1944, after becoming the first black woman in Dallas County to vote in a public election, 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. 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 later served two terms on the Dallas City Council from 1975 and 1979.

Juanita 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, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award in 1984, and she was recognized by the NAACP for her fifty years of service shortly before her death at the age of 83 on August 6, 1985.

Legacy[edit]

The Juanita Jewel Craft Recreation Center and a Dallas city park were named in her honor as was a U.S. Post Office in southeast Dallas.

Her home on Warren Avenue in South Dallas is now the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House and is part of Dallas's Wheatley Place Historic District. Climbing the wooden steps of its front porch were many historic figures seeking audience with Juanita Craft, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Lyndon B. Johnson. [3]

References[edit]

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