The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records, 1970-2013
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Brief Description:

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) Collection comprises the entire history of the organization, from its beginnings in 1978 at founder Curtis L. King's dining room table to the present. This includes documentation of thirty six seasons of theatrical and concert performances, visual art exhibits, guest lecturers, and community events, as well as the history of the organization, its different locations, and its search for funding from the City of Dallas.

Particular highlights of the collection include its annual tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., entitled Black Music and the Civil Rights Movement, which has featured headliners such as Eartha Kitt, Jennifer Holliday, Erykah Badu, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, and CeCe Winans. Materials also describe TBAAL's engagement with Dallas K-12 students through its Youth Summer Arts program. The collection also documents other recurring events, such as Jazz at the Muse, Comedy at the Muse, Symphony in Black, and a number of events featuring gospel singers. There are also materials documenting the 1993 retrospective on the March on Washington, entitled I Remember..., musical tributes to Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin, and an evening with Ambassadors from Africa and the Caribbean.

Types of media include posters, flyers, and other promotional items for TBAAL's performances; news clippings documenting TBAAL's activities; architectural plans for its current facility in the Dallas Civic Center; Dallas City Council meeting minutes; press releases, grant applications, and correspondence with supporters and celebrities; photographs of performances, lectures, after-parties, and other events; and an extensive collection of audio/visual recordings of TBAAL productions.

Held at:
University of North Texas Special Collections
University of North Texas, Wilis Library
1155 Union Circle # 305190
Denton, TX 76203
Record Series Number: 01/AR0797
Created by: The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (1978-), Curtis L. King
Volume: 235.9 Boxes
Acquired: 11/00/2014. 2014-076. Additional accruals to the collection will be added every two years.

The collection is arranged into seven series.

Series 1: Audio/Visual Materials comprises 118 boxes of VHS, Betamax, Betacam, Umatic, and digital video recordings as well as audio cassettes of TBAAL events. These materials are arranged by season.

Series 2: Administrative Files covers 14.5 boxes of meeting minutes, planning documents for TBAAL's moves, and other materials documenting the day-to-day operation and organizational history of The Black Academy. The files are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series 3: Support Letters comprise 2.5 boxes of correspondence sent both to The Black Academy of Arts and Letters and to founder Curtis King, personally, encouring and expressing support for TBAAL's activities. These materials were originally stored chronologically in a series of binders. This chronological arrangement has been retained.

Series 4: Photographs contains TBAAL's extensive (49 boxes) photograph collection. This includes photos taken at TBAAL events, headshots and/or other promotional photographs. The original topical arrangement has been retained.

Series 5: Press Files contains newsclippings, announcements, press releases, and TBAAL's newsletter, Pipeline. The files are arranged chronologically in 9 boxes.

Series 6: Production Files comprises 41.9 boxes of promotional and planning material for performances and other events sponsored or hosted by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. The files are arranged into chronological sub-series for each season; files are alphabetical within the season.

Series 7: Oversize Materials captures large-format manuscripts that were separated from their original context. All such separations have been documented.

Biographical Note for The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (1978-) :

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters is a Dallas, Texas based visual and performing arts organization dedicated to stimulating awareness of black artistic accomplishments and identifying, encouraging, and supporting young artists and scholars in African-American arts and letters. Originally called the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the organization was founded in 1977 by Curtis King, of Coldwater, MS. The Junior Black Academy was modeled after the American Negro Academy and the New York Black Academy of Arts and Letters, sharing their mission of promoting and celebrating African-American art, scholarship, and culture. The Junior Black Academy was originally located in King’s own apartment on Knight St. in Dallas, but eventually moved to its current location within the Dallas Convention Center in 1989. In 1997, the Junior Black Academy’s board of directors voted to change the organization’s name officially to The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

In its early years, TBAAL created its own touring theatre troupe, the Third World Players. It has since grown to host over one hundred performances every year, including an annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled Black Music and the Civil Rights Movement, and a Summer Arts program aimed at engaging Dallas K-12 students in the theatrical arts.

Access Restrictions: This collection is not restricted.
Subject Index
African-Americans -- History
African Americans in the performing arts
Centers for the performing arts
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Copyright for all content in the TBAAL Archive is owned solely by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Inquiries to obtain permission for commercial and/or non-educational use of materials from the TBAAL Archive should be directed to Curtis King, president, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.
Physical Access Notes: This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to use.
Acquisition Notes: Curtis King/The Black Academy of Arts and Letters  Donation.
Related Materials: Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available within the "Black Academy of Arts and Letters Materials" collection in the Portal to Texas History. For more information please see
PreferredCitation: The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records, University of North Texas Special Collections