Today in Texas History – April 23

From the Annals of Bravery in the Face of the Racists –  In 1931, O. P. DeWalt, president of the Houston NAACP, was assassinated. DeWalt was a real estate and school principal who had graduated from Prairie View College.   He later opened the Lincoln Theater, the first exclusively black theater in Houston. His bravery in confronting the Ku Klux Klan was noted as he fought against their growing influence.  He also sought to end the Democratic Party’s “whites only” primary system and pushed for the establishment of a branch of the National Urban League in Houston.

Most believe that DeWalt was killed for his strong opposition to the Klan. According to Hazel Haynesworth Young, however, the event that spelled doom for DeWalt was when he had the nerve to bring the 1929 King Vidor epic Hallelujah to town. Vidor intended the film to portray blacks far more sympathetically and realistically than ever before.   According to Young, “He brought it in defiance of the white people who were supposed to see pictures first . . . And they had somebody kill Mr. O.P. DeWalt.”  Shamefully, no one was ever prosecuted for his murder.

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