In 1905, L.H. Spivey, T.M. Fairchild, E.O. Smith, and several Negro leaders meet with William A. Hunton the National Colored Secretary to discuss establishing a Houston YMCA for Negros. These Houston leaders continued to meet on Sundays for many years; however, their initial quest to establish a Y failed until the National War Work Council established the Colored Soldiers and Sailors Branch of Houston Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States in 1918. The Colored Soldiers and Sailors Branch of Houston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was housed on the third floor of the Lincoln Theatre under the leadership of Professor Howard Payne Carter to provide fraternal and Christian fellowship for Houston’s Colored soldiers and sailors returning from World War I.
In 1931, William C. Craver became the Executive Secretary of the Colored YMCA. He was highly effective in implementing changes in structure and operations of the developing YMCA as it joined as a branch of Houston YMCA. Craver was also instrumental in the Y's growth in programs and services by expanding the work of the Colored Branch YMCA of Houston. The Colored Branch YMCA of Houston moved to the Pilgrim Building located at 1217 Bagby Street and West Dallas Avenue in 1935.
This change in location brought on a new designation for the branch. Executive Secretary William C. Craver hired Quentin R. Mease as a program director to initiate a special expansion program for young men. Shortly after arriving on his new assignment, Mease convinced his colleagues to change the name of the Colored Branch YMCA located in the Pilgrim building to the Bagby Street Branch YMCA and succeeded William C. Craver as the executive secretary in 1950.
555 Grace the YMCA Black Genii is a collection of stories about the men and women who established the Colored YMCA and help build Houston. Their contributions and lives are acknowledged and celebrated so we will always remember...