Graggs, Charles Randall (1875–1967)

By: Bailey Haeussler

Type: Biography

Published: May 15, 2013

Updated: May 15, 2013

Charles Randall Graggs, prominent African-American author and civil rights activist, was born on August 7, 1875, to John and Lou Graggs in Marlin, Falls County, Texas. He was the older of two children. About 1892 the family moved to Dallas, where Charles lived for most of his life.

Graggs attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., for a portion of his college education. No information was found to support or deny claims that he attended Howard University on a scholarship. Before 1900 he attended the Boston Conservatory of Art at Boston University. Graggs was self-employed throughout his life. He owned and operated a shoe repair and used clothing shop in Dallas. He married Rosa E. Obie around 1908. They had five children; two daughters, Ouida and Vabel, lived to adulthood.

Graggs earned the reputation as a strong civil rights advocate and authored many works in his efforts to fight the “battles for freedom of his fellow African Americans.” His publications include Education—An Essay (1921), The Fallacy of Racial Segregation (1924), An Open Reply to the Foes of Civil Rights (1949), “N.A.A.W.P. (National Association for the Advancement of White People)” (1955), “Negro Women” (1955), Is It Hate or Is It Fear? (1957), and others. Graggs was also well-known for responding to articles published in the Dallas Morning News and often replied through the “Letters from Readers” section. Later in life, he collected works of art and books. According to his daughter Ouida, “He told his children that he was born with a three-fold taste for art, books, questioning and attacking segregation as applied solely to Negroes.” Charles Graggs was also a charter member of the Dallas branch of the NAACP.

During the 1960s, sometime after his retirement, Graggs moved to Los Angeles, California, where he died on April 13, 1967. He was buried in Los Angeles. Back in Dallas, the numerous accounts of Graggs’s responses, as well as his activism within the community and NAACP, did not go unnoticed. Upon his death, the Dallas Morning News paid tribute to him and his family with a special feature.

Dallas Morning News, August 8, 1958. Sadye Gee, comp., Darnell Williams, ed., Black Presence in Dallas: Historic Black Dallasites (Dallas: Museum of African American Life and Culture, 1988?). Mamie L. McKnight, ed., First African American Families of Dallas: Creative Survival, Exhibition, and Family History Memoirs (Dallas: Black Dallas Remembered Steering Committee, 1987). 

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Bailey Haeussler, “Graggs, Charles Randall,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 15, 2013
May 15, 2013

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