Irving Black Arts Council Irving Black Arts Council
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Our Founder,
Ms. Jackie Mae Howard Townsell


The Honorable Jackie Mae Howard Townsell was a visionary and trailblazer. In 1977, Townsell became the first African-American and the second woman elected to the Irving City Council. She served as Mayor Pro Tem. She was elected for nine consecutive two-year terms. Her 18-year service on the Council is the longest uninterrupted service of any council member in Irving’s history.

In 1971, she became the first African-American to serve on a Dallas County Grand Jury. Mrs. Townsell served as a Dallas County election precinct chairwoman for nine years. Among other civic duties are board positions with Irving Aid, Inc. West Irving Improvement and Day Care Center, Democrats for Responsible Government, and the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center. In 1989, she founded the Irving Black Arts Council under the umbrella of the Irving Arts Board of the City of Irving to serve as venue to showcase the artistic talent of African Americans.

On Thursday, October 17, 2002, Mrs. Townsell’s footprints on earth ceased, but we rejoice because she made numerous indelible marks on the Irving Black Arts Council as well as citizens within and beyond the City of Irving’s border’s. Her contributions, like an artist’s palette of colors, are varied and impacted many people. We will cherish her memory forever.

Irving Archives, Irving Public Library