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Fort Worth’s Black history has been overlooked. Four projects are reclaiming those stories

A large brown house with a big lawn.
Miguel Perez
Kinfolk House is the century-old home of Fort Worth artist Sedrick Huckaby's late grandmother, Hallie Beatrice Carpenter. It's where Sedrick, along with his wife Letitia, co-founded a collaborative project space that combines community and art.

The Amon Carter’s exhibition, Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation showcases how contemporary Black artists are reclaiming the narrative around slavery and liberation in Black history. But it isn’t the only project in Fort Worth exploring the idea of reclaiming history. Local arts, service and historical organizations are working to reframe the conversation about Fort Worth’s history.

Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society:

Since the ‘70s, the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society has been working to recognize Black history and culture in Fort Worth. Executive director Brenda Sanders-Wise said the organization was created in 1977 by Lenora Butler Rolla, a Black community leader, journalist and entrepreneur.

“Mrs. Rolla began her stint with museums at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History as a docent,” Sanders-Wise said. “She couldn’t find any history of Blacks in universities, in the museums so that’s why she started collecting.”

Located in the Historic Southside, the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society’s Lenora Rolla Heritage Center and Museum has been an educational and cultural space for Fort Worth communities for many years.

“Our history is invaluable, and when people come to visit us, they are amazed by what we have,” Sanders-Wise said.

Transform 1012 N. Main Street:

Eight local organizations are working together as Transform 1012 N. Main Street to reclaim the former Texas headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan and transform it into The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing.

Daniel Banks and Adam W. McKinney, co-founders of the arts and service organization DNAWORKS, helped convene the coalition. McKinney said it’s a way for Fort Worth to enact change like other cities including Montgomery, Ala. with the Legacy Museum, and Washington D.C. with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“There is an opportunity to build upon the resources that we have available to us, to remember and simultaneously to take responsibility for what has happened,” McKinney said.

Kinfolk House:

Letitia Huckaby is one of the seven artists who were invited to participate in The Carter’s “Emancipation” exhibition but she also co-founded a collaborative project space Kinfolk House in Fort Worth that focuses on community and art.

“I believe that the best way to deal with the past is to not forget it and share it,” Huckaby said.

In the past, Kinfolk House has hosted projects like Formation, which featured a selection of sculptural works that explored how home and land say something larger about people and families.

Upcoming Projects:

The National Juneteenth Museum will be a 50,000-square-foot cultural center in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood. The museum, which is expected to open in 2025, will reflect on the significance of the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas received news that they had been freed.

It will include 10,000 square feet of immersive exhibition galleries, 250-seat theater, a business incubator and food hall.

The Fort Worth African American Museum and Cultural Center is still in the initial planning stages. The project intends to recognize and preserve African American heritage in Fort Worth. Organizers are working with community groups and experts to finalize a location and assess feasibility.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

Michelle Aslam is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow and recent graduate from North Texas. While in college, she won state-wide student journalism awards for her investigation into campus sexual assault proceedings and her reporting on racial justice demonstrations. Aslam previously interned for the North Texas NPR Member station KERA, and also had the opportunity to write for the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer.
Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.