DaLyah Jones

DaLyah Jones is a staff writer for Texas Observer covering environment. She’s a former general assignment reporter and All Things Considered producer for Austin’s NPR Station, KUT 90.5, where she focused on rural and suburban stories outside of the Capital’s urban core.
The Mary Allen Seminary.

Efforts to Save What’s Left of Mary Allen Seminary Reveal The Challenges of Preserving Black Placemaking in Texas

The Mary Allen Museum of African American History continues to race the clock to preserve what’s left of Texas’ first African American school for Black girls and women.

Opened in 1886, the Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett once taught Black Texans etiquette, discipline, home economics, and agriculture. Now, it’s barely standing, held up by crumbling clay bricks and chipped, brittle wood. Tattered windows expose what’s left of the … Read More

Laverne Brackens sits in front of one of her early quilts made with silk from Japan
Culture, News

Quilts of Color

Laverne Brackens and her family carry on the interwoven legacy of Black quiltmakers in East Texas.

On a mild, showery day in August, Laverne Brackens sits in her bedroom with her daughters Lily Mays and Betsy Johnson. This is also her workroom, where she pins together cloth and sews while watching The Price Is Right on … Read More

Staff Sergeant Samuel Countee’s World War II era mural.

Beyoncé Isn’t Possible Without Houston. Houston Isn’t Possible Without the Black Diaspora.

Texas’ artistic innovation is nothing new and continues to be center stage through artists like Beyoncé during yet another period of Black rediscovery.

Beyoncé’s second visual album, Lemonade, is characterized by foreboding visions of weeping willows, dark bayous, and images of Black women decorated in antebellum garb. It’s an ode to the landscape of Texas and Louisiana and heavily inspired by the 1991 … Read More

The cafeteria at Zavala Elementary school usually has children lined up according to their classrooms, but as of Thursday April 30, 2002, it is home to toys and activities for children attending the daycare to expend some energy in a controlled environment. Starting May 6, Zavala Elementary in Odessa Texas will begin operating its facilities as a daycare for children whose parents are medical professionals. (Ben Powell/Odessa American via AP)

Texas Already Lacked Affordable Child Care. Then COVID-19 Hit.

The coronavirus has temporarily or permanently closed almost half of all child care providers in the state, leaving few options for low-income working families.

Jessica Nolen and her 5-year-old daughter had a morning routine. Fights with their alarm clocks first, some morning television, then quick berry smoothies, and always rushing out the door. By 8:30 a.m., they’d arrive at Opportunity School, a day care … Read More

Andrea Roberts
Civil Rights, News, The Interview, The Issue

Andrea Roberts Is Working to Define What Free Black Space Is

Through the Texas Freedom Colonies Project, researchers are working to liberate data on behalf of Black Texans.

In 1865, it was announced that more than 4 million Black people were freed, ushering in the Reconstruction Era. And although formerly enslaved people were told they were free, laws and leaders didn’t protect them from violence, unfair wages, and … Read More

In a Saturday, June 6, 2020 photo, people walk in Gould Park in Vidor, Texas. Several hundred people came out to the park on Saturday afternoon for a protest and peace march in honor of George Floyd who died while being detained by Minneapolis police. (Fran Ruchalski/The Beaumont Enterprise via AP)

What the Black Lives Matter Protests Mean for East Texas

Protests where I grew up–where lynchings and KKK marches have occurred in my lifetime–could signal a shift in the region long plagued by racial terror.

The first time I thought I knew someone famous was when I saw a man we called Byrd on television. I lit up. Byrd, a Black man I recognized as a friend of my dad’s, was speaking at a press … Read More


City Nature Challenge Can Help Us Find Resilience and Mindfulness at Home

This year, researchers are asking residents to become citizen scientists in their own backyards in hopes of collecting vital data in otherwise overlooked areas.

This month, as we continue to struggle with the realities of a global pandemic—and the cooped-up existence it’s brought forth—the arrival of the annual City Nature Challenge (CNC) offers a welcome reprieve. The worldwide community science competition, which aims to … Read More

In this March 29, 2018, photo, steam is released out of the Valero Refinery in Houston. More than a year after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, state environmental authorities have only just begun enforcement actions against a handful of companies deemed responsible for some of the most massive air and water pollution incidents reported during and immediately after the storm. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

COVID-19 Could Be a ‘Double Whammy’ for Those in Pollution Hotspots

Texans who breathe polluted air are more likely to have preexisting health issues. That means they're at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from the coronavirus.

Air pollution across the globe has sharply dropped, an unintended silver lining of COVID-19. But as coronavirus continues to spread, Texas environmental advocates are bracing for impacts that can’t be reversed by a few weeks of reduced industrial production and … Read More


Rapper TTBBY on How Growing Up in East Texas Shaped His Music

Tobias Traylor has overcome poverty, hurricanes, displacement, and mental health challenges, experiences reflected in his music.

Hailing from the north side of Beaumont—known to locals as Big Money Texas—26-year-old Tobias Traylor wants to make sure the world knows him as someone “real,” authentic. But in the Magnolia neighborhood, the Army veteran is still known as the … Read More