Last updated: November 25, 2020
Juanita Craft lived in this modest, one-story wood frame house for 50 years, and both Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., visited her there to discuss the future of the civil rights movement. Craft played a crucial role in integrating two universities, the 1954 Texas State Fair, and Dallas theaters, restaurants, and lunch counters. As a tribute to her anti-discrimination efforts, Dallas named a city park and recreation center after her. In 1918 Craft's mother died of tuberculosis when a San Angelo, Texas, sanitarium refused treatment because of her race. Seven years later, Craft moved to Dallas, where she worked as a hotel maid and later, a dressmaker. In 1935 Craft joined the NAACP, and in the years that followed, she started 182 rural NAACP chapters.
In her frequent train trips around the state, she consistently sat in "whites only" sections, refusing to move. Craft joined demonstrations against the segregated University of Texas Law School and North Texas State University, each resulting in successful lawsuits in 1950 and 1955. Afterwards, she opened a dropout preparation program in Dallas. Craft also served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth, and as a member of the Governor's Human Relations Committee. In 1975, at the age of 73, she was elected to the Dallas City Council, where she spent the next two years working to improve the status of Hispanic and Native Americans.
A project through the African American Civil Rights Grant Program, which works to document, interpret, and preserve the sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights, has funded recent rehabilitation work at the Juanita Craft House.
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