At 2618 Warren Ave in Dallas sits a red-roofed, one-story frame house. Within these 1300 sq. ft., Juanita Jewel Craft (1902-1985), alongside other civil rights workers, as well as Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter, and Lyndon B. Johnson, fought against discrimination by challenging Jim Crow laws through nonviolent demonstration and legal suits. Craft lived in this house for 50 years. As a snapshot of the time, in the first year of her residence there, neighborhood racial tensions were so elevated, eleven bombings occurred.
One of Dallas´ most significant civil rights figures, Craft held vital roles in integrating two universities and the 1954 Texas State Fair, as well as public transportation, theaters, restaurants, and lunch counters in Dallas. Born in Round Rock, Craft received her teaching certificate from Sam Houston College, going on to work as a hotel maid, then a seamstress. She joined the NAACP in 1935, rose in the ranks, and eventually helped to organize 182 rural branches. In 1944, Craft became Dallas County’s first black woman to vote in a public election.
Craft served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth, and as a member of the Governor’s Human Relations Committee. She opened a dropout preparation program, and she was elected to City Council, where she sought to improve the status of Hispanic and Native Americans. Craft received many awards throughout her life, including the NAACP Golden Heritage Life Membership Award and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award.
The Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights house is open by appointment. It is one of only a few house museums in the United States that honors a Civil Rights Movement major female figure. For information, please call the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs at 214-670-3687. The city is currently in the process of cementing the house as Texas’s first official stop on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, as well as restoring the home, cultivating the Juanita J. Craft Memorial Garden, and establishing the site as a Texas Education Commission certified facility for teaching school children across the State of Texas.