Step into the African-American Museum and hear about Galveston’s history from someone who has lived it. Josey was born in Galveston and has spent a considerable amount of his life here, opening the African-American Museum in 1999. Josey is very involved in the community and helps people of all ages discover the knowledge of the past and see the brightness of the future.
The History of Galvestonian African-Americans
A visit to the African-American museum will take you back in time and introduce you the history of Galveston’s black heritage. Discover an era of Galveston when so many black-owned businesses thrived. Do you know the first black police commissioner in Galveston? View the typewriter once owned by T.D. Armstrong, Galveston’s first black city councilman and first black millionaire.
Historic Black Businesses
From 1939 to 1999 there have been almost a hundred black-owned businesses north of Broadway. Businesses like Bar-B-Q Places, Night Clubs, Beer Joints (Taverns), Grocery Stores, Taxi Cabs, Funeral Homes, Cafes & Eateries, and Hotels & Apartments, and Barber Shops all once thrived in Galveston. You could hail a cab from the black-owned Busy Bee Cab Company Circa 1947. Maybe stop into the black-owned Sham Rock Coffee Shop around 1954. Catch some great live music at the black-owned Downe Beate on the west beach, the only place like it that blacks could patronize.
Galveston’s Historic Sports Legends
Learn about the legends who came from Galveston. One of the first was the “Galveston Giant”, John Arthur Johnson. Born in Galveston, TX on March 31, 1878, and was the son of a former slave, Jack Johnson would grow up to become the first black world heavyweight, which took some doing since white fighters refused to fight him. Finally, in 1908, Tommy Burns took the challenge and was knocked out by Johnson. Racial tensions flared and the search for a “Great White Hope” began. Boxer James Jeffries came out of retirement for the sole purpose of “proving a white man is better than a Negro.” Johnson knocked Jeffries down twice before Jeffries’ corner threw in the towel in the 15th round. The fight took place on July 4, 1910 and Johnson’s victory sparked riots all over the country. By the time the riots were over, hundreds had been injured and at least twenty were killed.
Other Notable Legends
In 1952 Ray Don Dillon would be the first black Galvestonian drafted into the National Football League. Charlie Ferguson, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, Casey Hampton from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Evans from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and others are all from Galveston.