Established by the Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was a New Deal public work relief program that hired unmarried, young men to work in land conservation and park development under the supervision of the National Park Service and United States Army. More than 50,000 of its three million participants served in Texas, constructing a total of 56 national, state, and local parks and turning the dream of a state park system into a reality.
While the founding legislation mandated that "no person shall be excluded on account of race, color, or creed," the CCC capped Black enrollment at 10 percent and fully segregated camps in 1935. All recruits received equal housing and pay, but Black enrollees were largely shut out of company leadership positions and permanent employment at NPS. Under Jim Crow, Texas also administered state parks and other public sites as whites-only spaces, meaning Black CCCers were forbidden from returning to finished parks as visitors until the 1960s. All-Black companies helped build seven Texas state parks—including Palo Duro Canyon, captured in this 1933 government film.