In 1974, the African American Museum was founded as a part of the Special Collections at Bishop College (Now Paul Quinn College), a historically black college that closed in 1988. The Museum was housed in the Zale Library.
The Summer Camp started in 1976 while the Museum was still at Bishop College. The Summer Camp has continued until this very day with the next installment beginning every June. Enroll your child here or donate to support a child without the means to attend our marvelous technology, art, and literature camp.
The first gala was 1986 at the Adolphus Hotel Dallas. The number of attendees was 350. The Adolphus Hotel Dallas was built in 1912. "Located at Akard and Commerce, a corner which it shares with the Baker Hotel, the hostelry has the dubious distinction of being part of what the Dallas Chamber of Commerce calls Cornbread Corner".
Cornbread or not, the Aldophus was filled with legendary luxury. In the old movie version of Bonnie and Clyde, Warren Beatty asks Faye Dunaway, a waitress from West Texas, "Now how you like to go walkin" in the dining room of the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas wearing a nice silk dress and have everybody waiting on you?" Which goes to show that the Adolphus is legendary and nonetheless, the scene of the first gala surrounded in wonderment and fanfare.
In 1988 the Museum moved from the campus of Bishop College to the WRR radio station building in Fair Park. Before this occurrence, the museum was founded in 1974 and since 1979, has operated independently. Later, a 7 million dollar structure which is now its home was funded through private donations and a 1985 Dallas city bond election. The bond election provided 1.2 million towards its construction. The 38,000-square-foot (3,500 m2) structure, built in the shape of a cross, is made of ivory-colored stone. Natural materials and design motifs are used throughout the museum in a manner reminiscent of pre-industrialized cultures of the African continent. Dallas opened this new facility in Historic Fair Park in November 1993
After the move to the new space at Fair Park Dallas, the museum continued their tradition of sending to each member, corporate supporters, and key community supporters an excelent document offically entitled "Museum of African-American Life and Culture Program Guide". This magazine/newsletter was generally about twenty-five pages containing information, photographs, and sponsorship opportunities as well as at least fourty primary and reoccurring events (not including the dozens of special and sponsored programs) happening from month-to-month at the Museum for people of all ages.
Amazingly, each pristine event was an evolution of idealic modeling between collaborating and coworking people in the community embedded in mutual trust and volunterism. From the basis of the African proverb stating "Ignorance is Expensive", these collaborating people were able to achieve great things on the limited budget of a non-profit (Museum) and the generous donations from a believing and special few.
Most of all, these events springing from hope were rhythmic, festive, and highly informative about African American identities, reflections, and contributions.
The first black invitational rodeo sponsored by the museum was in 1987. Since that time, over 25 editions of this one-of-a-kind event has taken place with each event showcasing the deep history of African Americans and their close and organic connection to their early traditions embodied to excellence in earth, nature, livestock, and agriculture.
These staples of the broad history of African Americians and their ancestry leads us back to an empowering semblance of us reflected in these cowboys and cowgirls. Today, these wonderful men and women compete for $25,000 dollars in prizes and provide a specticle for all onlookers. Click here to buy tickets.
The Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame (TBSHOF) is housed at the African American Museum, Dallas. TBSHOF was established to chronicle the sports history contributions made by African Americans. It was established in 1996 to honor coaches and athletes of high character and athletic achievement, who are either Texans by birth or by athletic participation and who have made recognizable contributions to African American culture and/or history.
In 1999 the board of trustees of the African American Museum, Dallas renamed the Biennial Southwest Black Art Competition and Exhibition the Carroll Harris Simms National Black Art Competition and Exhibition for Mr. Simms outstanding contribution to art and art education.
Tulisoma Swahili for "we read", is a community-based festival promoting literacy and the arts in the South Dallas/Fair Park area. Founded in 2003, by the late Leo V. Chaney, Jr., and Dr. Harry Robinson, President and CEO of the African American Museum, the goal of Tulisoma is to create a dynamic event tailored to engage local families, avid readers, aspiring writers and visitors to the city.
The original "Southwest Black Art Exhibition" began in 1978 and finished its 16th consecutive installment in 1994. This art exhibition went into hiatus in 2001 after over twenty consecutive showings at the African American Museum.
The new "Southwest Black Fine Art Show" (SWBAS) began again at the African American Museum in 2010. This new installment and latest resurgence of the previous art exhibition was a brainchild of Frank Frazier, a group of art educators, and collectors and curators from North Texas. 2019 would be the tenth installment of the show and each year SWBAS undergoes various themes and layouts to keep the show fresh for collectors and public viewing alike.
In 2018, the show saw the foot traffic of over 5,000 visitors seeking the one-of-a-kind artworks from African and African American artists from all over the globe during this four day festival. Go to swbas.aamdallas.space to view examples from 2018.