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Woman in Texas History and Membership in The Naacp

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Texas is in essence the epitome of “the Great American Spirit.” It is wholly considered to be a place of deep culture and passion, whether it be through the cobblestone streets of Fredericksburg, historic downtown Abilene, or the rich and diverse city of metropolitan Dallas. Always striving for improvement, citizens work tirelessly, passionately, and candidly to insure furtherance. Hundreds of thousands of Texans bustle around the urbanized cities and sparsely populated small towns of Texas, striving for the absolute betterment of their personal lives, communities, and our state in general. No one in Texas’ history better represents such a lively passion for the inalienable rights of the American citizen, avid involvement in political issues, and concern for the furthering of Texans than Juanita Craft.

Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft was born in February of 1902 in Round Rock, Texas. As an only child, Craft experienced quite a bit of attention from her parents, but was anything but spoiled. Believing wholeheartedly in the artform of productivity, Craft’s mother Eliza encouraged her to constantly have a task at hand. It is this nature, I believe, that encouraged Juanita to become the unrelenting spirit she exemplified later in her life. As a citizen of her small hometown of Round Rock, one’s dignity and pride were valued highly above all else. Often Juanita’s parents would warn her to never reveal their first names, as it was common practice for someone to attempt to expose one another based on it. In the eves of the Roaring Twenties, Mrs. Craft experienced a vast number of killings, lynching, riots and even a few cases of burnings. The sheer amount of exposure to such atrocities Mrs. Craft experienced is a definite source for the passion she so felt against racial prejudices, biases and the like.

Craft consistently sought to strengthen her community through fraternization, and aimed to due so through “Craft house” in southern Dallas. In the 1950s during the peak of the civil rights movement, Craft moved straight into the heart of southern Dallas: one of the most dangerous areas that was often subject to bombings. One of Juanita Craft’s most distinguishable qualities is her absolute passion for the underprivileged youth of inner-city Dallas. Seeking to educate the younger generations of the time, Juanita ardently supported their enlightening through the educational and social events she’d hold for the people in her community. Influential American social justice figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson spent a multitude of hours in the company of the late Mrs. Craft, learning of the injustices that plagued the world. A true example of Yin and Yang, Juanita was both a revolutionist and a kind-hearted teacher. It was through this combination of the two that innumerous learned of the true challenges they faced as the next generation of revolutionaries against a system built to restrict them.

Amongst these strives, injustices were keenly combated in the wakes of the Civil Rights Movement in the city of Dallas, a fight that Juanita Craft was most prominently involved in. In the early 1930’s Juanita joined the NAACP and paid the membership price of a single dollar, originally more interested in job discrimination. Craft more thoroughly became involved in 1942, often spending an entire day selling an upwards of 100 promotional buttons and pins, allowing her to gain established notability. Mr. George F. Porter, president of the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP in 1938, took notice of her work according to Craft, stating “if you’re that kind of person, you need to be on the executive committee working with us”. It was such dedication that inevitably led her to being included in such executive meetings with those of the “NAACP state hierarchy” such as Lulu B. White, whom she worked with for a multitude of years as State Organizer in 1946, along with her duties as Dallas National Chairman. Not only did she spread awareness for established chapters of the NAACP, Craft actually established 182 Texas NAACP chapters.

The 1950s marked a critical time in the Civil Rights movement, as it had been about the time that the NAACP had begun to publically challenge the legality of the “separate but equal” notion. Juanita Craft, as the NAACP Youth leader of the Dallas chapter, aimed to get the Youth involved in innumerable nonviolence protests and demonstrations. Sit-ins were described as “the most fascinating because those kids really worked”. Orchestrating an elaborate system, Craft had the youth come into lunch counters in pairs requesting to be served. As they’d be systematically turned away, Craft would send the next pair in and have several call, asking if they served people of color. One of the most notable pickets that Craft led was the picketting of the State Fair in 1955, which won an NAACP award for its significance.

In 1975 Miss Juanita Craft was elected to Dallas city counsel and held position as councilwoman for a multitude of years. As the first African American woman to hold a Dallas city council position, Juanita Craft set a prominent precedent for all future office holders. True to her Revolutionist spirit, Juanita continued the fight for equality and fought avidly for Native American and Hispanic rights. Her civic services earned her a vast number of awards and accolades not only from Dallas office officials, but national honors as well. A few examples of such would be Dallas’ highest honoring civic award, the Linz Award, a number of NAACP service acknowledgement awards, and a nationally recognized Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian award just a year before her passing in 1984.

As clearly exemplified in these multiple contributions during her life, Mrs. Juanita Craft has created a dominating lasting impact on the lives of all Texans. Her figurative construction of the Craft houses’ open policy for education shaped the very lives of the numerous who found solace there.  

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Woman in Texas History and Membership in the NAACP. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
“Woman in Texas History and Membership in the NAACP.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
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