Dallas awarded $500,000 grant to preserve African American civil rights history

Dallas–Juanita Craft House Museum, home of local Civil Rights activist

Dallas, Texas – The City of Dallas was awarded a National Park Service (NPS) Grant in the amount of $500,000 to preserve African American civil rights history. This funding will support major renovations of the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House. The African American Civil Rights Grant Program awarded $12.2M and is funded by the Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Through this nationally recognized award, NPS seeks to support efforts nationwide to preserve resources, places and stories which tell defining parts of our nation’s history and the African American experience and civil rights movement.

“As Mayor, I truly believe that the Juanita J. Craft House tells a piece of our City’s history that has been long ignored,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. “Telling the full history of Dallas and highlighting the leadership of those who helped advance our City through the Civil Rights Era is vitally important as we continue to address our contemporary challenges. I was heartened that the City Council included $250,000 in next year’s budget for this project, and I am elated to receive this generous grant so we can properly honor Juanita Craft’s legacy and inspire generations to come. I am eager to visit the restored Craft House — and to take my children with me.”

The 1,300 square foot, one-story frame home is located at 2618 Warren Ave. in the Phyllis Wheatley Historic District of South Dallas. This was the home of Juanita J. Craft, one of Dallas’ most significant civil rights figures and only the second African American woman to serve on the Dallas city council. Juanita J. Craft lived in this house for 50 years and both Lyndon B. 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, Dallas theaters, restaurants and served the NAACP for 50 years helping to establish 182 chapters across the state of Texas.

“The Office of Arts and Culture is honored to receive this monumental investment in the Craft House by the National Park Service,” said Jennifer Scripps, director of the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Cultural. “Juanita Craft’s legacy of serving her community, advocating for civil rights and mentoring young people will now be able to be appropriately honored in the home once it is restored and re-opened.”

In May of 2018 a major flood occurred resulting in major damage to the home, resulting in its closure to the public. In June 2019, the City of Dallas Arts and Culture Advisory Commission adopted the first-ever Historic Structures Report, a document with a complete assessment of the home, its historic significance and recommendations for how to improve it going forward.  Efforts to engage the community in conversation about their collective vision for the home and to raise funds for its restoration and exhibits and programming for future audiences are currently underway. The entire budget for this project is just over $1M, and the City of Dallas 2019-2020 budget includes $250,000 in capital funds for this project.

“I am thrilled that the National Park Service will grant $500,000 towards the Craft House,” said Councilman Adam Bazaldua. “South Dallas has always recognized the legacy of Juanita Craft in our community, but this high level of support by our nation’s Historic Preservation Fund signifies that her work and inspiration is valued and recognized nationally. Juanita Craft’s legacy carries on in the fight for equity in District 7 and throughout Southern Dallas. It is my hope that preserving and reopening the Juanita Craft House will draw perspective, inspiration and vision from across Dallas – and our country, to spark civic engagement, inspire activism and bring together allies in our continued fight for equity.”

Renovations for the Craft house are scheduled to begin in 2020 and anticipated to conclude by the end of 2021.

To learn more about the Craft House visit: https://dallasculture.org/cultural-venues/juanita-craft-house/

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