Donald Payton is president of the African American Genealogy Interest Group, which is a branch of the Dallas Genealogical Society. Mr. Payton has spent more than 35 years tracing family histories and doing historical workshops across America. He is a former Dallas County Historical Commissioner who has served on a special state committee to make June 19th an official Texas state holiday, and he has presented numerous Juneteenth workshops and programs in various states. Mr. Payton has also been featured in national media news events and interviews. In June 1998, he published an article for D Magazine entitled, “Timeline: A Concise History: Black Dallas Since 1842.”
Mr. Payton was born on June 3, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. However, he grew up in Dallas. His father worked at the Post office and his mother worked as a sanitation worker at Republic Bank. Mr. Payton attended high school at Hamilton Park School and attended college at North Texas State University, which is now called the University of North Texas. His education was interrupted by various draft notices for the Vietnam War. Despite the notices, Mr. Payton did not serve in the military. After leaving North Texas State, Mr. Payton became a door to door magazine and Bible salesman, which allowed him to travel extensively. He also spent time as an employee of Sears. Eventually, he began education outreach work for the Dallas Historical Society which required him to conduct outreach projects within grade schools.
Mr. Payton is known as the “unofficial historian of Black Dallas.” He is married with two children and resides in East Dallas.