Johnson to get historical marker

Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion and a Galveston native, will be honored with a historical marker at his namesake park on Avenue M.


GALVESTON — The Texas Historical Commission has recognized Arthur John “Jack” Johnson as a significant part of Texas history by awarding him an Official Texas Historical Marker. 

The designation honors Jack Johnson as an important and educational part of local history.

A dedication ceremony to commemorate the event will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 1 at Jack Johnson Park, 2601 Ave. M.

Speakers for the morning will include Ann Landeros and Alex Borger. The Galveston County Historical Commission welcomes the public to share in and witness this exciting historical event.

“The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the THC. 

“Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of important cultural resources.”

Johnson, born in 1878 in Galveston, was the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion. He beat Tommy Burns of Canada in Sydney, Australia, in 1908 to win the world heavyweight title.

A subject qualifies for a marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history, and the age requirement depends on the topic. 

The THC’s Official Texas Marker Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Procedures, which may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division, Texas Historical Commission, at 512-463-5853 or visiting the website at

“The citizens of Galveston are thrilled to honor our very own ‘Galveston Giant.’ This marker ceremony shall serve as a celebration of such a diverse cultural history that exists on Galveston Island,” said Hank Thierry, chair of the Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee. 

“To have both a city park and Texas Historic Marker in honor of Jack Johnson will allow generations of Texans to celebrate his life and Galveston’s rich history.”

There are three types of Texas Historical Markers. Subject markers are posted solely for public education awareness and awarded more frequently than the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, which is a legal designation for historic structures and comes with a measure of protection. 

Unlike subject markers, the RTHL must also meet a third criterion — architectural integrity. Historic Texas Cemetery markers identify cemeteries, which have obtained the HTC designation and whose histories have been researched in detail.

Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with approximately 15,000 markers. Seventeen states have used the Texas program as a model; the THC reviews more than 300 marker applications each year.

The Texas Historical Commission is the state agency for historic preservation. The agency administers a variety of programs to preserve the archeological, historical and cultural resources of Texas.

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