Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Library System

Finding Aid for the Cleveland Nisby Papers 1919-2011

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Nisby, Cleveland, 1919-2011
Title: Cleveland Nisby Papers
Dates: 1919-2011
Content Abstract: 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.
Identification: AC-657
Extent: 1.5 cubic feet in one box.
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Libraries,  695 Pearl St,  Beaumont, TX 77701

Historical Note

Cleveland Nisby was born in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana in 1919 and moved to Beaumont, Texas with his family at a young age. He graduated from Charlton-Pollard High School in 1937, attended Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas from 1938-1939 and graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas in 1965 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 include 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, Starlight Missionary Baptist Church where he was a deacon for 48 years and supervised 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 the Ben Rogers Racial Justice Award in 1997. He died December 23, 2011 at the age of 92.

Scope and Content Note

Newspapers and newspaper clippings, magazines, photographs, invitations, programs, awards, certificates, and correspondence.


Organization of Collection

The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title.


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.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Nisby, Cleveland, 1919-2011
Nisby, Dora
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Young Men’s Christian Association
Economic Opportunity Commission, Southeast Texas
South Park Independent School District Advisory Council
Magnolia Oil Refinery
Mobil Oil Refinery
African American men
Civil rights
African Americans--Civil rights
Blacks--Civil rights
Employee rights
School integration
Race discrimination
Race relations
Labor unions
Petroleum industry
African American women
Proportional representation
Social justice
African Americans--Housing
Beaumont (Jefferson county, Texas : inhabited place)
Newspaper Clippings
Printed Material – Magazines, Books, Press Releases, Invitations, Programs, Directories

Related Material


Separated Material

Charlton-Pollard Yearbook, The Rice Shock, 1927

Charlton-Pollard Yearbook, The Rice Shock, 1928

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Item description], Folder Number, Box Number,Cleveland Nisby Papers, Tyrrell Historical Library

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dora Nisby in 2015, March.

Processing Information

Processed by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2015 March.

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


Furher accurals are expected.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Cleveland Nisby Papers 1919-2011

Box Folder
1 1 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Awards and Recoginitions
2 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Ben Rogers Racial Justice Award
3 Cleveland Nisby Papers – A Colored Man’s Journey through 20th Century Segregated America
4 Cleveland Nisby Papers – CUSH Magazine – January 2005 – July 2006
5 Cleveland Nisby Papers – CUSH Magazine,August 2006 – October 2008
6 Cleveland Nisby Papers – CUSH Magazine – September 2009 – February 2011
7 Cleveland Nisby Papers – CUSH Magazine – March 2011 – December 2012
8 Cleveland Nisby Papers – The 52nd Presidential Inaugural
9 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Miscellaneous Correspondence
10 Magnolia/ Mobil Oil Refinery
11 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Newspaper Clippings
12 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Political Campaigns
13 Cleveland Nisby Papers – Southeast Texas Black Pages
14 Cleveland Nisby Papers – The Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record
15 Cleveland Nisby Papers – YMCA Service
Box Folder
2 1 Assorted loose newspapers and newspaper clippings