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Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project

Not one, but two civil rights movements flourished in mid-twentieth century Texas, and they did so in intimate conversation with one another. Both Afircan Texans and Mexican Americans fought for their civil and political rights throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries right into the twenty-first happening now. While most research on American race relations has utilized a binary analytical lens—examining either "black" vs. "white" or "Anglo" vs. "Mexican"—the Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project produced by Texas Christian University (TCU) collects, interprets, and disseminates new oral history interviews with members of all three groups. This project is a publicly accessible, free, and user-friendly multimedia digital humanities database that provides video clips from interviews to research including the voices of teachers, students, journalists, activists, and the general public. The project can be found at

About | Civil Rights in Black and Brown. (2020). Retrieved February 11, 2020, from


An interview with David O’Neal; Galveston resident and retired Ball High Coach “Growing up in Galveston, what was your first experience with discrimination?”

David, “Well Galveston was unique in the sense that I didn't experience true discrimination until I left the island. At least it wasn't true hardcore discrimination. Galveston was the first city in the state of Texas to have African American policeman and that was in 1867. You have to understand the whole concept of why we celebrate the 19th of June . . . we celebrate the 19th of June because it was supposed to be January of 1863 that everybody was supposed to be declared free. We didn't get the message until 1865, the 19th of June. Which is why we celebrate Juneteenth and why that date is so important. Texas was the last state to not agree to ending slavery, and so when the Union Army came down to Texas, they declared the last vestiges of the Confederacy null-and-void and that day was really the end of the Civil War. So what took place when the soldiers came in was they left the police force intact thinking that hopefully only a simple transition in the law was taking place. But when the army came back in 1867 there was so much corruption with the police force that the the officers then got rid of all of the entire Galveston police department and appointed his own people including five African Americans. Hence Galveston was the first city in Texas to have a black policeman. We were the first in the state to have electric lights, the first to have indoor plumbing, the first to have trolley cars. Remember everything else was still rural, and the first newspaper was here in Galveston. We had the first African American lifeguard, the first high school for African Americans was Central High school in 1885. This is so important because Galveston was a port city with a lot of people coming from Europe and people like Mr. Rosenberg wanted to build up the city and saw then how important education was and specifically the importance of educating all people. Keep in mind at that time the furthest a person of color could go in school was maybe the eight grade. In fact it was almost equivalent to going to college today, which is why so many people of color migrated to Galveston then, to get an education because it was like going to a college!”


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