The story of the African American presence in Texas history follows the familiar script written for every other southern region in the nation: slavery brought most African Americans to the state. By the mid-1800s, slavery played an important role in Texas' economic development and, in fact, enslaved African Americans comprised 30 percent of the state's population by 1860. Freedom for the African American in Texas finally arrived on June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth, and the end of the Civil War. After secession and during reconstruction, federal intervention was required once again to insure the protection of civil rights in Texas, ushering in an era that saw African Americans helping the Texas economy recover from the Civil War, serving in the state legislature, and helping to guide the state toward a freer, more democratic society.
Their success was short-lived, however, as segregation established a grip on the state that wouldn't be released for another 60 years. Despite what seemed like impossible odds during this period, African Americans in Texas were able to build communities and businesses, allowing economies and cultures to thrive. Today, we recognize the important contributions made by African Americans to Texas by commemorating their heritage in our museums, with our celebrations, and in our history books.
Journey through the African American culture and heritage in Texas with the following Texas Historical Commission travel resources:
Texas Time Travel website – Use the map and links below to explore historic sites that tell the real stories of Africans Americans in Texas.
Mobile tour – Go mobile with the African Americans in Texas mobile tour, featuring a rich blend of images, videos, first-person interviews, maps, and useful visitor information for exploring historical sites across Texas. Download the app directly to your iOS or Android device. (NOTE: If you are opening the mobile tour on a desktop, narrow your browser window to resemble mobile screen proportions for a better view of the content and options.)
African Americans in Texas Instagram Photo Contest
During African American History Month (February 2016), the Texas Historical Commission (THC) is hosting a one-month photo contest consisting of Instagram photos of any site featured in our African American heritage travel guide (see Historic Sites list below) or the African Americans in Texas mobile tour. To enter:
Take a photo at one of the historic sites listed below or in the African Americans in Texas mobile tour.
Post it to Instagram (make sure it’s a public account!) between February 1 and February 29, 2016.
Identify the site in the caption or geotag.
Include the hashtag #AfricanAmericansInTexas in the caption or a comment.
Participants who submit a photo will be entered into a drawing to receive a prize package*. Multiple submissions are allowed, but names will only be entered once into the drawing. Submissions must be in by midnight on February 29, 2016, and the drawing will take place the following day. The winner will be contacted via Instagram and will have 48 hours to respond with receipt of confirmation. If we don’t receive notice of confirmation of receipt, we’ll select and notify another random winner instead.
*The prize package will include free admission for two for one year to all of the THC’s 20 state historic sites. Additional items will include items donated from Austin organizations and businesses featured in our African American hertage travel guide and mobile tour.
**Submitted photos may be reposted by the THC, and may also be included in future outreach materials from the agency. We love to showcase outstanding photo submissions, as shown in this photo blog post about a previous contest.
Watch our African Americans in Texas video series to learn more about African American cultural heritage in Texas. These videos were produced for inclusion in the African Americans in Texas tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app and may also be found on visitor site pages throughout Texas Time Travel: