An array of thought-provoking exhibitions at the African American Museum, Dallas, exploring everything from the role that Prairie View A&M played in Black high school sports in Texas during segregation, to a nostalgic look back at a national magazine with Fort Worth roots cele- brating African American’s achievements. Also on tap are the “lost” biblical and religious images of a beloved Texas folk-art painter and educator.
The fall season also includes a Christmas music “under the dome” concert and marketplace along with a Dallas photographer’s portfolio of powerful images depicting politics, protest and Black progress during the 1980s.
Opened Sept. 22 – the following exhibitions:
- Sepia: Past. Pride. Power. Until Feb.15, 2022 An exhibition of African American politicians, community leaders, and entertainers from the Sepia Magazine Collection of the African American Museum
This exhibition features cover shots and photos from Sepia, a photojournalistic magazine styled like Look and occasionally described as the “poor man’s Ebony.” The magazine was founded in 1946 as Negro Achievements by Horace J. Blackwell, an African-American clothing merchant of Fort Worth. Following the death of Blackwell in 1949, George Levitan, a Jewish-American man who was a plumbing merchant in Fort Worth, bought the magazines and Good Publishing Company (aka Sepia Publishing) in 1950. He changed the name to Sepia, and the magazine continued publishing beyond Levithan’s death until 1983. In 1991, the vast collection of Sepia photos was donated to the African American Museum, Dallas, and is now part of its permanent collection. The Sepia exhibition includes some of the biggest names from the past century in entertainment, politics and culture, including Aretha Franklin, Huey Newton, Ray Charles, Althea Gibson, Cicely Tyson, James Earl Jones and many more.
- Ruth Mae McCrane: Scenes from the Lost Book of the Bible and Other Religious Subjects (1929-2002). Until Nov. 27, 2021. An exhibition of the religious paintings of Houston-based artist and educator Ruth Mae McCrane
Ruth Mae McCrane (1929- 2002) was born and raised in Texas, and, for 33 years, the lifelong educator taught art, history and language in Houston public schools – and painted in her spare time. Upon retirement, Dr. McCrane devoted her life to painting, chronicling life in Depression-era East Texas and Louisiana. Working on canvas, paper and plywood, her vividly colored paintings depicted various aspects of African American secular and religious activities, including school-children, family gatherings, cotton and melon picking, rodeos, juke joints and more. The works in the Lost Books of the Bible exhibition are influenced by her life growing up as the daughter of a pastor and her numerous memories visiting other churches. Her artistic style has been described as “naïve,” making her a favorite with folk art collectors.
- The History of the Prairie View Interscholastic League: Black High School Sports in Texas in the Era of Segregation. Until Feb. 15, 2022. An exhibition of the players, teams and the impact and dominance of Black high school sports in Texas when racial segregation forced African Americans to create their own interscholastic sports league.
This exhibition features memorabilia courtesy of the Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) Coaches Association, which works to preserve and commemorate the history of the League and its governance over athletic, academic, and music competitions for the state’s black high schools during segregation. The PVIL was organized in 1920 by Prairie View officials and existed until 1970 when its merger with the University Interscholastic League was completed. The exhibit includes vintage images, trophies, news clips, uniforms and equipment. Despite being woefully under-funded and lacking other basic resources, PVIL schools featured passionate rivalries, legendary coaches and dozens of college All-Americans – most through historically black colleges such as Prairie View and Texas Southern University. The UIL opened in 1910 at the University of Texas to govern competitions for “any white public school” in the state. It would be another 10 years before African American students in Texas would have the same guidance afforded them by the Texas Interscholastic League of Colored Schools, which would mirror the UIL’s operations and produce some of the finest football talent in the nation.
For more information, go to aamdallas.org or call 214-565-9026.
Also scheduled for later this year are the following activities and exhibitions:
EXHIBITION: Politics, Protest and Black Progress in Dallas in the 1980s: The Photographs of George Fuller. Dec. 1, 2021, to Feb. 15, 2022.
An exhibition of the photographs by Dallas photographer George Fuller that capture the fight for 14-1, the protests against police brutality and progressive Black politics in Dallas in the 1980s
LECTURE: LG FOSTER LECTURE. Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at 2 p.m.
This annual fall lecture presents a scholar in African American history
and culture. The lecture is named for founding board member L.G. Foster, Jr., who was very instrumental in securing funding for the new facility in Fair Park and to underwrite an art educator. The lecture will be virtual.
CONCERT/EVENT: CHRISTMAS MUSIC UNDER THE DOME AND CHRISTMAS MARKETPLACE. Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, from noon-4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, from 3-5 p.m.
The South Dallas Children’s Choir (SDCC) Annual Christmas Concert will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. along with local hand bell choirs and youth string musicians. Local artists and craftspeople will sell their works at the marketplace both days.
HOURS. The African American Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.