On Saturday, May 20, the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House & Museum, a historic home owned by the City of Dallas and operated by its Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), debuted with a grand reopening ceremony following five years of restoration.
Ms. Craft, one of the most significant Civil Rights leaders in Dallas, lived in the 1,300-square-foot South Dallas home for 50 years. Ms. Craft joined the NAACP in 1935 and went on to launch 182 rural chapters of the organization. She played an active role in integrating the University of Texas Law School and North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), as well as the 1954 Texas State Fair and a number of Dallas businesses, including theaters, restaurants, and lunch counters. In 1975, she was elected to the Dallas City Council and served two terms.
Originally, the home needed an estimated $100,000 of repairs, but in 2018, after a burst pipe caused significant damage to the building and some paper ephemera related to Ms. Craft’s work as a civil rights leader, the renovation needs became more extensive. The project has taken longer than initially anticipated due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues.
In 2020, despite the ongoing renovations at the house, the South Dallas Cultural Center (SDCC), which manages the programming related to the house and is also a part of the Office of Cultural Affairs, launched the Juanita J. Craft Artist Residency. According to the SDCC website, “The Initiative aims to encourage artists of the African Diaspora in all disciplines to explore new working methods and to develop socially engaging, interactive art experiences immersed within the neighborhoods of the South Dallas area.”
Since its establishment, nine artists have participated in the residency program. The 2022 residents were Camika Spencer, Ebony Lewis, Jessica Bell, and Linda Jones. Submissions are being accepted through May 30 for the next round of artists in residence.
Now that the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House & Museum has reopened, docent-guided tours will be offered Tuesdays through Saturdays at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., beginning Thursday, June 1, 2023. Additional programming includes a book club, a community group, a healthy food group, and a listening and discussion series on the music of the Civil Rights era. Learn more and schedule a tour at the SDCC website.