The Junior League of Dallas (JLD), Friends of Juanita Craft Civil Rights House, City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, and other community partners joined together on Feb. 9 to celebrate the contributions of Juanita Craft.
On what would have been the Dallas civil rights leader’s 120th birthday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson proclaimed it Juanita Craft Day and presented the proclamation in Craft’s honor.
The city of Dallas recognized the contributions of the Junior League of Dallas and its fellow community partners for the work they have done to rehabilitate the Juanita Craft Civil Rights House, a historical home located in the Fair Park neighborhood in South Dallas. Following the meeting and presentation, the JLD and Friends of Juanita Craft Civil Rights House hosted a reception to mark this special occasion.
“We are proud and privileged to honor the life and legacy of Juanita J. Craft, a civil rights icon who dedicated 60 years of her life to making Dallas a better, more just, and more equitable city,” Johnson said. “I want to thank our partners — including the Junior League of Dallas and the Friends of Juanita Craft Civil Rights House — for helping us preserve her legacy and her story.
“This proclamation is about more than commemorating a single day. It’s about recognizing that generations of people have and will continue to benefit every day from her lifetime of work.”
In 2018, the city of Dallas was in the process of turning the Juanita Craft House into an educational museum, but efforts came to a halt when a sprinkler pipe burst in the attic and flooded the home. The JLD announced in 2020 its Centennial anniversary project would be the rehabilitation of the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House. The Centennial project, in partnership with the City of Dallas’ existing efforts to rehabilitate the home, will be completed later this year. To date, the JLD and its partners have raised nearly $1.4 million to help complete the much-needed renovations to reopen the house to the public.
Craft’s home served as a popular gathering spot for civil rights leaders and activists, such as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., President Jimmy Carter, musician Duke Ellington, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, when they passed through Dallas. Based on its legacy, the JLD is working closely with the City of Dallas to secure the home’s designation as a historical landmark on the Civil Rights Trail, which would be the first in the State of Texas.
“It has been an honor for the Craft House to be the designated beneficiary project of the JLD’s Centennial celebration,” said Jennifer Scripps, director of the city’s Office of Arts and Culture and a JLD member. “Their holistic support and leadership have resulted in support for governance, publicity and broader public awareness, and most importantly, fundraising the critical dollars necessary to rehabilitate the home. We look forward to a relationship with JLD that extends beyond their Centennial year.”
JLD President Christa Sanford said the partnership with the city and other community groups that led to the rehabilitation of Craft’s home as a museum was “wonderfully rewarding.”
“The City’s mission was something we wanted to be a part of as an extension of the League’s ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and there was no question this was the best project to take on in celebration of our Centennial,” she added. “We are eagerly anticipating the reopening of the Juanita Craft House to visitors later this year and securing this as a special place for the public to enjoy in the decades to come.”