Norris Wright Cuney was born in 1846, in the slave quarters of Sunnyside Plantation near Hempstead, to Anglo planter Philip Cuney and one of his slaves, Adeline Stuart. His father sent Norris Cuney to Pittsburgh, Pa., to attend a school for African American students, but Cuney left the school following the Civil War. He worked a variety of odd jobs, including stints as a riverboat worker, before returning to Galveston. In Texas, Cuney grew into a national leader, giving Texas' African Americans a voice in both state and national politics. He was appointed inspector of customs for Galveston in 1872, and became the first African American to serve as a Galveston alderman when elected to that position in 1883. Cuney chaired the Republican State Convention in 1882 and was a delegate in every national convention from 1876 to 1892. U.S. President Benjamin Harrison appointed Cuney collector of customs in 1889. He was also involved in African American fraternal organizations, serving as the first grand master of the Prince Hall Masons from 1875-77.
Watch the following video to learn more about post-emanication professional life of African Americans in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in the African Americans in Texas mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. For more information about the mobile tour and African American cultural heritage in Texas, visit the African American Heritage theme page at the following link: http://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-african-american-heritage