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Sun, 07.17.1977

The Junior Black Academy of Arts, and Letters Begins

On this date in 1977, the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc. (JBAAL) was created.

Curtis King formed it with C. Eric Lincoln, John O. Killens, Margaret Walker Alexander, Frederick O’Neal, Jean Hutson, Romare Bearden, and Doris Saunders. Its home base was Dallas, Texas. The formation of JBAAL directly involves young and aspiring artists and scholars.

The JBAAL was established for the following purposes: To enhance and help sustain the total cause and efforts for which ANA and BAAL were established; to work jointly and cooperatively under the auspices of the founders and former members of BAAL; to serve as a catalyst and clearinghouse for Black arts and letters organizations and institutions.

Its goals were promoted by defining, preserving, cultivating, fostering, and developing the arts and letters of black people as its main objective. It encouraged public recognition of the universality of the arts and letters of Black People through fellowship and cooperation among black artists, composers, musicians, writers, performers, scholars, and all others engaged in artistic and creative endeavors is yet another goal.

Holding competitions, exhibits, performances, presentations, and showings of the arts and letters of Black People through the media, including but not limited to photographs, paintings, sketches, carvings, casting, moldings, films, tapes, recordings, engraving, and publications is a year-round curriculum. After over two decades of producing and presenting programs in music, theatre, dance, film, television and video, literature, and visual arts throughout the United States, TBAAL has continued to create strong ties among many emerging and well-known artists and scholars.

In the organization’s early history, it established Third World Players, a professional Resident Touring Company.  Renowned actress Regina Taylor was a member of that company in 1978, and other artists, including Erykah Badu, are products of the Academy. On April 14, 1997, the Board of Directors of the Academy unanimously voted to change the name of the Academy from the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Incorporated (JBAAL) to The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Incorporated (TBAAL).

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc., can be found in the downtown Dallas Convention Center Theatre Complex. The complex houses the 1,750-seat Naomi Bruton Theatre, 225-seat Clarence Muse Café Theatre, Eva Jessye Gift Shop, James E. Kemp Gallery, administrative offices, and several rehearsal spaces.

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