Texas Centennial 1936: African-American Texans and the Third National Folk Festival
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African-American Texans expressed ethnic as well as regional pride by their efforts to participate in the 1936 celebration of the state’s centennial. Business and educational leaders, primarily from the African-American community in the Dallas area, lobbied the state legislature and Centennial officials to ensure proper representation of their race. Their efforts were manifest in the erection of the Hall of Negro Life Building— an exhibit displaying the progress of African-Americans in Texas and throughout the nation1—and the unprecedented participation of African-American performers at the third National Folk Festival held from the 14th through the 21st of June 1936 at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. The significance of their actions went beyond the Centennial era. Indeed, Texas Civil Rights leader A. Maceo Smith recalled that, for many African–American Texans, the Centennial "was the kickoff of the real Civil Rights thrust in Texas."