Texas Council of Negro Organizations

By: Neil Sapper

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: March 12, 2021

Texas Council of Negro Organizations was first conceived by Antonio Maceo Smith on May 8, 1941, in Dallas. Smith, a civil rights activist, called upon the various Texas organizations devoted to civil rights and interracial understanding to meet in Dallas on January 10, 1942, to address overlapping activities among African-American organizations in Texas and develop a course of action for the wartime emergency as well as to plan for the status of African Americans in Texas in the postwar period. Attending the first meeting were Smith, Joseph J. Rhoads, Theodore Hogrobrooks, Carter W. Wesley, L. I. Brokenbury, Richard T. Hamilton, Jessie D. Aimes, Maynard Jackson, Sr., and E. C. Estell. These delegates represented the Texas Voters League, the Texas Negro Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Conference of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Texas Interracial Commission. Delegates elected A. Maceo Smith to chair the Texas Council of Negro Organizations and L. I. Brokenbury as secretary. The Executive Committee on Education within the TCNO elected Joseph J. Rhoads, president of Bishop College, to chair the General Committee on Educational Equality. With the election of President Rhoads to chair the task force seeking to integrate public higher education in Texas, the TCNO was headquartered in Marshall, Texas, the original seat of Bishop College. The leadership of forty-five statewide racial and interracial organizations in Texas were delegates to the TCNO. The delegates were mostly males who were either self-employed or worked in all-black institutions, such as colleges or churches. The endeavors of the TCNO were marked from the beginning by internal disputes over strategies, points of emphasis, and the clashes of strong, dominant personalities. Some other sources of conflict were derived from religious denominational differences, economic self-interest among black Texans who were employed in racially segregated institutions, regional rivalries between Dallas and Houston, and the like. Ultimately, the work of the TCNO was subsumed by the NAACP campaign to integrate the graduate and professional programs of the University of Texas. This effort not only eclipsed the TCNO, but it contributed to the decline of the NAACP in Texas. After the overthrow of the White primary in 1944 in Smith v. Allwright and the legal integration of the University of Texas in Sweatt v. Painter in 1950, the battles of the Second Reconstruction occurred elsewhere. In Texas the struggle for full equality was waged on a local, not a statewide, basis. The Texas Council of Negro Organizations had ceased to exist within ten years of its appearance as a civil rights organization in Texas.

Melvin J. Banks, The Pursuit of Equality: The Movement for First Class Citizenship among Negroes in Texas, 1920–1950 (Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1962). Steven F. Lawson, Black Ballots: Voting Rights in the South, 1944–1969 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976). Neil Sapper, "The Fall of the NAACP in Texas," Houston Review 7 (1985). Neil Gary Sapper, A Survey of the History of the Black People of Texas, 1930–1954 (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1972).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Organizations


  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

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

Neil Sapper, “Texas Council of Negro Organizations,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-council-of-negro-organizations.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995
March 12, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: