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DeWalt, O. P. (ca. 1890–1931)

Laurie E. Jasinski Biography Entry

O. P. DeWalt, civil-rights leader, the son of John and Caroline DeWalt, was born near Livingston, Polk County, Texas, probably around 1890. He attended a rural school in the area and entered Prairie View College in 1907. He graduated with high honors in 1910. DeWalt moved to Houston, where he worked as a real estate agent with T. M. Fairchild. In 1913 he married Maud Pernetter; they had one son. For a brief period DeWalt worked as principal of Independent Heights School before opening the Lincoln Theater, the first exclusively black theater in Houston. During the 1920s he was president of the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During the time when the Ku Klux Klan experienced a resurgence in activity, DeWalt was heralded as an influential civil-rights leader who stood up to the KKK. He was involved in the white primary fight in which the Democratic party excluded black participation, and he also pushed for the establishment of a branch of the National Urban League in Houston. DeWalt remained NAACP president until his death. He was assassinated on April 24, 1931. Funeral services were held first in Houston and then in Livingston, where he was buried.

Michael L. Gillette, The NAACP in Texas, 1937–1957 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1984). Darlene Clark Hine, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979). Houston Informer and Texas Freeman, May 2, 1931.

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression

Places:

  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Laurie E. Jasinski, “DeWalt, O. P.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dewalt-o-p.

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