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Cleveland Nisby Papers

Identifier: AC-657

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, awards, and correspondence that relate to Nisby and his wife Dora's civic engagements and personal life, as well as their community involvement in the YMCA, YWCA, NAACP, and Starlight Baptist Church. The collection includes campaign materials from Nisby's campaign for County Commisioner, voter registration maps of Jefferson County, and various local publications, such as Cush Magazine and Nubian Magazine, as well as documents regarding local jazz player George Alexander. The collection also includes educational and classroom resources related to Civil Rights and Anti-Racism.


  • Creation: 1919-2011


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Restrictions

Some restrictions may apply.


The Tyrrell Historical Library holds copyright for papers created by Cleveland Nisby. Exceptions include published works, for which copyright is retained by the creators and/or publishers. The researcher must secure permission to publish. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. The researcher assumes full responsibility for complying with copyright, literary property rights, and libel laws.

Historical Note

Cleveland Nisby was born in 1919 at St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, and moved to Beaumont, Texas, with his family at a young age. He graduated in 1937 from Charlton-Pollard High School, attended from 1938-1939 Paul Quinn College in Waco, and graduated in 1965 from Lamar University in Beaumont with a degree in Associate Supervision and Management. He married Dora R. Truvillion who was a librarian and supervisor in the Beaumont Independent School District. They raised five children.

Mr. Nisby was a civil rights activist and community leader who fought discrimination and injustice in all forms. Shortly after beginning his career at Magnolia Refinery he became active in organizing labor unions for Black workers. He helped Black workers pass required tests and filed discrimination charges on their behalf. Mr. Nisby worked for the Mobil Oil Corporation from 1943 until his retirement in 1981.

In addition to his work in organized labor, Mr. Nisby worked to promote the interests of Black workers in city and county government. He made regular appearances before the city council to encourage the hiring of Black clerical and professional employees. As President of the Beaumont Branch of the NAACP, Cleveland Nisby awakened city officials to the desperate housing needs in the city and was active in litigation that created single member legislative districts for Jefferson County which led to the election of the first Black state representative from that county.

Among other notable achievements were service to the South Park School District, where he aided students and parents in their adjustments to multi-racial school populations. Service to his church, the Starlight Missionary Baptist Church, where he was a deacon for 48 years and supervised in the construction of a $500,000 new sanctuary. And service to his community, where he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Beaumont.

In recognition of his lifelong efforts to achieve racial balance, Cleveland Nisby was awarded in 1997 the Ben Rogers Racial Justice Award. He died on December 23, 2011, in Beaumont at the age of 92.


1.5 Cubic Feet (1.5 cubic feet in two boxes)


Cleveland Nisby was a prominent civic leader and activist in the Beaumont, Texas area. While employed by the Magnolia Refinery, Mr. Nisby worked to get union representation for Black workers and to eliminate dual lines of promotion for Black and White workers. In the 1960’s he made numerous appearances before local elected officials to encourage the hiring of Black clerical and professional employees. His efforts led to the hiring of the first Black employee hired for a clerical position in Beaumont city government. As president of the Beaumont Branch of the NAACP, Mr. Nisby worked for affordable housing, voting rights and public school integration issues. In addition to his work for racial justice, Mr. Nisby was a deacon at Starlight Missionary Baptist Church for 48 years and was owner of a business management consulting firm.

Organization of Collection

Series 1: Civic Activities and Resources

Series 2: Precinct, Ward, and Road Maps of Beaumont and Jefferson County

Series 3: Personal Papers

Series 4: Community Activities

Series 5: George Alexander

Series 6: Community Publications

Series 7: Civil Rights, History, and Anti-Racism Resources

Series 8: Oversized Collection

Series 9: Newspaper Clippings: Politics, Civil Rights, Cleveland Nisby, and Current Events

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dora Nisby in 2015, March.


Furher accurals are expected.

Related Material


Separated Material

Charlton-Pollard Yearbook, The Rice Shock, 1927

Charlton-Pollard Yearbook, The Rice Shock, 1928

Processing Information

Processed by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2015 March.

Finding aid revised and encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2015 May.

Finding Aid for the Cleveland Nisby Papers 1919-2011
Tyrrell Historical Library Staff
2015 May 26
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Tyrrell Historical Library Archives Repository