"For the Citizens of East Texas": The Desegregation of Tyler State Park

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Although Tyler State Park had started welcoming white visitors in 1937, African-American visitors were prohibited from participating, with all requests deferred due to no separate facilities having been provided. In 1949, Thomas R. Register, Rev. J. W. Presley, and Dr. P. E. Madlock, representing the Tyler Negro Chamber of Commerce approached the park manager asking about access to fishing and picnicking. He referred them to the State Parks Board. After being denied there, the group filed Register v. Sandefer to desegregate all Texas state parks. Eventually one side of the lake was minimally developed for African Americans, a situation which continued until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when the park was finally totally integrated.

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