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ExxonMobil Discovery Series: Colored Carnegie


Feb 25 - Feb 27, 2025

Event Type

Discovery Educational Series, Education Outreach

Ticket Price

This is a non-ticketed event. Performances are provided free of charge to 5th graders and teachers in Houston public schools.
Sign up at the bottom of this page to learn more about our registration process.

Performance Hall

Zilkha Hall


One hour

Introducing 5th Graders to the World of the Performing Arts

Arts Partner: Urban Souls Dance Company
Originally Commissioned by Performing Arts Houston

Colored Carnegie was inspired by Black Houston and conceived and directed by Harrison Guy as part of a commission by Performing Arts Houston that premiered in November 2021. The show was choreographed by Harrison Guy and Dancers from Urban Souls Dance Company with music by Dr. John Cornelius and set design by Edgar Guajardo.

The Houston Colored Carnegie Library was a segregated branch of what is now the Houston Public Library. It opened in 1913 in Houston’s Fourth Ward and was one of the first public libraries for African Americans in the southwest. But according to Guy, “the Colored Carnegie story really began in 1907” when Houston’s public library denied service to a group of African American teachers. In 1904 Andrew Carnegie gave a $50,000 grant to the city of Houston for a public library to open on the corner of McKinney and Travis, but only for white citizens. The city offered no comparable library service to Black citizens who made up nearly 40% of Houston. In response, a group led by Black educator E. O. Smith opened a one-room library in the Fourth Ward and then approached the city’s librarian and Mayor to request a separate “colored library” grant from Carnegie. Their application was approved in 1909, and Andrew Carnegie donated $15,000 for the Colored Carnegie Library to open in 1913.


Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie established a philanthropic program that ultimately funded 1,687 public libraries and 108 academic libraries in the United States and 2,509 libraries worldwide between 1883 and 1929. With African Americans denied access to some public libraries by Jim Crow laws, Carnegie grants also funded twelve Colored Carnegie libraries in eight states, mostly in the South, and provided self-education, community centers, and a place of respite from the segregated world outside. Colored Carnegie Libraries were established in these cities: Atlanta, GA, Evansville, IN, Greensboro, NC, Houston, TX, Knoxville, TN, Louisville, KY, Meridian, MS, Mound Bayou, MS, Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, Savannah, GA.

In the 2024-2025 school year, the Hobby Center is excited to present a diverse range of free educational field trips to Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall with the goal of serving 5th grade students in Houston. Through this TEKS-aligned series, 5th grade students are introduced to dance, music and/or theater in ways that are engaging, fun and further their learning and belonging.

Learn More about the Hobby Center’s educational programming and future opportunities for all Houston school districts.

This project is supported in part by an award from the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Mid-America Arts Alliance.

About Urban Souls Dance Company

Founded in 2004, Urban Souls Dance Company (USDC), is a Houston-based contemporary dance company and arts organization that is committed to bridging the gap between life and dance theater. The mission of Urban Souls is to foster connection and build community through dance, education, and advocacy. Urban Souls builds upon community assets to tell stories of the Black experience, prioritizing racial equity and advancing healing and justice

Performance Schedule

  • Audio Description
  • Open Captions
  • ASL

Swipe to see more details

5th Grade

  • Tue Feb 25, 2025 at 9:30 am
  • Tue Feb 25, 2025 at 11:30 am
  • Wed Feb 26, 2025 at 9:30 am
  • Wed Feb 26, 2025 at 11:30 am
  • Thu Feb 27, 2025 at 9:30 am

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