Smith, Antonio Maceo (1903–1977)

By: Neil Sapper

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1996

Updated: February 10, 2021

A. Maceo Smith, civil-rights leader, was born in Texarkana, Texas, on April 16, 1903, to Howell and Winnie Smith. After attending segregated schools in Texarkana, he earned an AB at Fisk University in 1924, an MBA degree at New York University in 1928, and pursued additional graduate studies in economics and business law at Columbia University. Before moving to Dallas, he owned a New York advertising agency and a Texarkana real estate company. After he arrived in Dallas in late 1932 he taught business administration in the Dallas Independent School District and served as publisher of the weekly Dallas Express. He became the first executive secretary of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce in 1933 and in 1936 was appointed deputy director of the Hall of Negro Life at the Texas Centennial Exposition. In 1937 he became an administrative aid with the Federal Housing Administration. In 1939 the United States Housing Authority appointed Smith regional relations advisor in Region VI. Sometimes referred to as "Mr. Civil Rights" or "Mr. Organization" of Texas, Smith was a lifelong activist in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Texas, participating in the legal campaign against the White primary in the state that culminated in Smith v. Allwright (1944). (The plaintiff in this case was Lonnie E. Smith, not A. Maceo Smith.) Smith also participated in the legal campaign against educational segregation in Texas, culminating in Sweatt v. Painter (1950). As the cochairman of the Biracial, later Triracial, Committee for the City of Dallas, Smith played a prominent role in the peaceful desegregation of public facilities and schools in the city. He served on the national board of directors of the NAACP from 1953 until 1957, when his supervisors at the FHA forced him to resign. Additionally, Smith participated in the founding and leadership of the Texas State Negro Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Council of Negro Organizations, the Dallas Urban League, and the Texas State Progressive Voters League. A career federal employee, Smith retired as assistant regional administrator for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1972. In addition to his many contributions as a civil rights activist, Smith also served as general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity from 1952 until 1954 and was a member of the Rotary Club of Dallas and the Knights of Pythias, a member and trustee of New Hope Baptist Church in Dallas, and a member of the board of trustees of Bishop College. He was honored as Fisk University Alumnus of the Year in 1949. Smith married Fannie C. Fletcher in 1936. He died on December 19, 1977.

Dallas Express, November 4, 1939, May 25, 1957. Dallas Morning News, May 3, 1973, December 20, 1977. Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce Collection, Texas-Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library. W. Marvin Dulaney and Kathleen Underwood, eds., Essays on the American Civil Rights Movement (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993). Michael L. Gillette, "The Rise of the NAACP in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 81 (April 1978). Neil Gary Sapper, A Survey of the History of the Black People of Texas, 1930–1954 (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1972). Jim Schutze, The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City (Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel, 1986). Who's Who Among Black Americans, 6th ed.

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • 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.

Neil Sapper, “Smith, Antonio Maceo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

February 1, 1996
February 10, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: