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Dr. William Charles Akins
During the days of segregation, Dr. William Charles Akins attended Blackshear Elementary School, Kealing Junior High School and [L.C.] Anderson High School. A graduate of Huston-Tillotson College, Dr. Akins aspired to be a teacher and a principal in large part due to the influences of his teachers and principals during his student days in East Austin schools. Dr. Akins served as principal of Anderson High School for almost 10 years before becoming an assistant superintendent with the Austin Independent School District. While working as a district administrator, Dr. Akins served as liaison between the school district and several community efforts, including the Adopt-A-School program, the Junior Achievement Program, Keep Austin Beautiful and the Urban League. On April 13, 1998, the Austin ISD school board approved the naming of a new high school (W.C. Akins High School) in Dr. Akin’s honor. He recalls the event as a great surprise, great humbling and a great feeling of accomplishment.
L.C. Anderson High School
L.C. Anderson High School was named for E. H. Anderson, who served as principal of Prairie View Normal Institute (now Prairie View A&M) from 1879 to 1885. In 1913 the high school moved again, to Pennsylvania Street (now the location of Kealing Middle School).
In 1938 the school was renamed for E. H. Anderson's brother, Laurine Cecil Anderson (1853–1938), also a local black educator who served as principal of the school for 33 years, from 1896 to 1929. Anderson was unanimously granted the posthumous honor by the Austin Independent School District (AISD) school board. In 1953 the school moved yet again, to 900 Thompson Street.
Anderson High School was opened at its current location at 8403 Mesa Drive in 1973, with its first class graduating in 1974. The new Anderson's first principal — another prominent African-American educator, Dr. W. Charles Akins — now has an AISD school, Akins High School, named after him.
Lee Lewis Campbell
CAMPBELL, LEE LEWIS (ca. 1865–1927). Lee Lewis Campbell, black Baptist pastor, was born in the mid-1860s in Milam County, Texas. He attended Bishop College in Marshall and then went to the University of Chicago. Sometime afterwards he returned to Texas and in 1887 married Ella Williams. They had three sons and one daughter. Campbell was ordained to the Baptist ministry at Cameron, Milam County. In 1892 he became pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, a position he held for thirty-five years. In Austin he founded St. John's Institute and Orphanage. He was president of the General Baptist State Convention and vice president of the National General Baptist Convention. He was also president of St. John's Encampment Colored Association, in which 10,000 African Americans came to Austin to discuss race relations. Campbell was also moderator of the St. John's Association, which had over 230,000 members across the state. He founded the Austin Herald in 1889. It was published every Saturday by the Publication Board of the General Baptist Convention of Texas in Austin. Campbell was ill the last two years of his life and died at Seton Infirmary on August 9, 1927, after surgery. His funeral on August 14 was attended by over 5,000 people. In 1939 L. L. Campbell Elementary School in Austin in his honor.
Hart grew up in East Austin and earned a bachelor's degree in education at what is now Huston-Tillotson University. She earned a master's degree from the University of Texas, becoming one of the few black female graduates at the time, her family said.
"One thing I remember is her strong conviction, her courage to stand up regardless of whether she was the only one standing," said current Austin Trustee Cheryl Bradley, whose District 1 includes East Austin. "She stood for what was right. She definitely was a champion for children and children of East Austin. Sitting on District 1, I've had a long line of mentors, and Bernice Hart would be one of them."
She retired as head counselor at LBJ High School in 1982 and ran for the school board that fall, after she was persuaded by her colleagues in the Austin Association of Teachers .
Hart won in a runoff with almost 54 percent of the vote and served on the board until retiring in 1993. One of her biggest contributions as a trustee was her proposal to return the district to a tradition of neighborhood schools, said Nan Clayton, a former trustee who served with Hart for 10 years.
Before 1987, elementary school students were bused to integrate schools across the district, but Hart pushed for better schools in all neighborhoods so young children would not have to be bused across the city, Clayton said.
"She remained quiet most of the time," Clayton said. "But when she had something to say, there was no confusion of where she stood on an issue."
Hart Elementary School in Northeast Austin was named in her honor in 1998.
Barbara Jordan was born in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas to a Black Baptist minister, Benjamin Jordan, and a domestic worker, Arlyne Jordan. She attended Roberson Elementary and Phyllis Wheatley High School.While at Wheatley, she was a member of the Honor Society and excelled in debating. She graduated in 1952 in the upper five percent of her class. She wanted to study political science at the University of Texas-Austin, but was discouraged because the school was still segregated.
She attended Texas Southern University and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Barbara was a national champion debater, defeating her opponents from such schools as Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University.
In 1956, she graduated magna cum laude from Texas Southern with a double major in political science and history. She expressed an interest in attending Harvard University School of Law, but opted to go to Boston University and graduated in 1959.
Ms. Jordan taught political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for one year before returning to Houston in 1960 to take the bar examination and set up a private law practice.
She ran for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964, but lost both times.... however, she made history when she was elected to the newly drawn Texas Senate seat in 1966, thereby becoming the first Black to serve in that body since 1883. She was an oddity at that time, as the first Black woman in that state's legislature.
Her brief record in the Texas State Senate is viewed as somewhat of a phenomenon. On March 21, 1967 she became the first Black elected official to preside over that body; she was the first Black state senator to chair a major committee, Labor and Management Relations, and the first freshman senator ever named to the Texas Legislative Council.
When the Texas legislature convened in special session in March, 1972, Senator Jordan was unanimously elected president pro tempore. In June of that year, she was honored by being named Governor for a Day. Shortly, thereafter she decided to run for Congress and was elected, in Nov. 1972, from the newly drawn Eighteenth Congressional District in Houston.
Both as a state senator and as a U.S. Congressman, Jordan sponsored bills that championed the cause of poor, Black, and disadvantaged people. One of the most important bills as senator was the Workman's Compensation Act, which increased the maximum benefits paid to injured workers. As a congresswoman, she sponsored legislation to broaden the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to cover Mexican Americans in Texas and other southwestern states and to extend its authority to those states where minorities had been denied the right to vote or had had their rights restricted by unfair registration practices, such as literacy tests.
She gained national prominence for the position she took and the statement she made at the 1974 impeachment hearing of President Richard Nixon. In casting a "yes" vote, Jordan stated,"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total." Having become a national celebrity, Ms. Jordan was chosen as a keynote speaker for the Democratic National Convention in 1976, and again in 1992. She was the first Black selected to keynote a major political convention.
President Jimmy Carter considered her for attorney general and U.N. Ambassador but she chose to remain in Congress. She was seriously thinking about challenging Sen. John Tower for re-election in 1978, but became ill and retired from politics.
She became a Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs. She was very close to President Johnson, often visiting him at the White House as a state Senator. In 1987, she became an eloquent voice against Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. She served as an unpaid adviser on ethics for former Gov. Ann Richards of Texas and was praised for her work on the Clinton panel on Immigration Reform.Barbara Jordan died of complications from pneumonia on January 17, 1996.
Hightower Theodore Kealing
KEALING, HIGHTOWER THEODORE (1860–1918). Hightower Theodore Kealing, teacher, writer, editor, and distinguished African Methodist Episcopal layman, was born in Waco, Texas, in 1860. He grew up in McLennan, Fayette, and Washington counties, where he attended school. He was among the first generation of blacks to attend schools established during Reconstruction. After graduating from high school he went to Iowa, where he graduated from Tabor College in 1881. He returned to Waco the next year and joined the faculty of Paul Quinn College, where he subsequently was principal. He began his journalism career at Paul Quinn, when he edited a periodical called The Colored American Journal with Rev. C. W. Porter. In 1883 Kealing moved to Austin, where he taught and became a principal in the Eighth Ward school, Robertson Hill. He served until 1888. During this time he organized the Central Texas District Teachers Association.
Kealing belonged to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was active in church affairs, and had a serious interest in the history of African Methodism. In 1885, while he was a teacher in Austin, he published a History of African Methodism in Texas. He also served as president of Paul Quinn College, was chosen in 1888 to head the A.M.E. Book Concern, the denomination's publishing house, and in 1896 became managing editor of the church's literary quarterly, the A.M.E. Church Review. He served as editor until 1912. As an officer in the denomination and an influential person through his position as editor of the Review, Kealing participated in the debates on issues that affected the church, African Americans, and the nation as a whole during the early years of the twentieth century. Paramount among those issues was discrimination aimed at blacks and what blacks should do in response. Kealing could not be called a militant on the order of William E. B. Du Bois or Reverdy C. Ransom, but he spoke out nevertheless against segregation and from time to time urged blacks to resist violence rather than ignore it as his friend Booker T. Washington proposed.
Kealing was married to Celia Shaw. The couple had four daughters and one son. The culmination of Kealing's career came with his appointment as president of Western University in Quindaro, Kansas. He died there in 1918, and his body was taken back to Waco for burial. Kealing Junior High School in Austin, the city's first black junior high school, opened in 1930 near the site where Kealing worked.
G. W. Norman
G. W. Norman served the Austin Independent School District for thirty-two years, from 1896 - 1928. The Norman Elementary School is named in his honor.
Volma Robert Overton, Sr.
Volma Robert Overton, Sr. was born on September 26, 1924, to Nicholas and Eliza Overton of Travis County. He attended public schools in the Maha Community and then at L.C. Anderson High School where he graduated in 1942. Six months after graduation, Mr. Overton was drafted into the military. He joined the United States Marine Corps and served two years in the Pacific Theatre. He returned home and met his future wife, Warneta Hill in February of 1946, at Huston-Tillotson College. They were married two months later in April of 1946, and eventually had four children.
Mr. Overton was honorably discharged from the Marines but continued to serve his country for twenty-eight years as a United States Army Reservist. He was honorably discharged at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Mr. Overton attended Huston-Tillotson College from 1947 to 1950 and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry. Two years later, in 1952, Mr. Overton began his career with the Post Office and in 1979, was appointed Postmaster at Cedar Creek, Texas. He served there until his retirement in 1985.
While attending to his duties at the post office, Mr. Overton continued to face the central core issues of segregation and discrimination.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was making his speeches and marches during this time and Mr. Overton decided to participate.
In 1963, Mr. Overton became president of the Austin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that same year he attended the March on Washington. Two years later, in 1965, he marched alongside Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma to Montgomery March.
During Mr. Overton's twenty year tenure as president of the NAACP, he organized picketed marches on segregated businesses, integrated Bastrop State Park, organized a credit union to serve East Austin, led a campaign to institute single member districts for Austin City Council Elections, and served on the newly created Commission on Human Rights, which developed from his efforts.
Mr. Overton was an ardent advocate for quality education for all students. He was most vocal on the issues surrounding public schools. In 1971, he merged his two passions of ending discrimination and public schools and fought for desegregation. He became meticulously involved in the landmark federal lawsuit to end segregation in AISD. With victory in hand, Mr. Overton continued to champion the cause for AISD by lobbying for funding, quality teaching materials and parental involvement. He mentored, tutored, and prepared young students for college -- believing education was the key to freedom.
Because of Mr. Overton's outstanding efforts in the cause for Human Rights, the NAACP bestowed upon Mr. Overton the Arthur B. DeWitty Award in 1967. And, because of his ardent efforts to further the cause of education and civil rights in Austin, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Library and Museum conferred upon Mr. Overton the LBJ Award for Leadership in Civil Rights on March 25, 2004. In addition to his awards, the book Volma -- My Journey: One Man's Impact on the Civil Rights Movement in Austin, Texas by Carolyn Jones, was published to recognize and chronicle Mr. Overton's achievements and dedication to the causes of equality and education. In addition to his many services to his country and community, Mr. Overton served Christ as a deacon and a Christian Lay Leader at the First Baptist Church in Austin. He continually supported missions and insured the church's involvement in the social ministries of the entire Austin community.
Mr. Overton passed away October 31, 2005, at the age of 81, and was interred with military honors five days later at the Texas State Cemetery.
Delco was born on July 16, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first of five children born to Juanita Fitzgerald Watson and William P. Fitzgerald, Sr. Her mother was a probation officer, while her father was a court deputy to a Chicago judge. Delco was very close to her mother, who was her role model. Her mother stressed the importance of education. Delco told the Austin American-Statesman, "My mother felt that education was the only thing nobody could take away from you."
While at Fisk Delco met Exalton Alfonso Delco, Jr., a native of Houston, Texas. The couple married in 1952, and moved to Austin in 1957. The Delcos eventually had four children: Deborah, Exalton Alfonso III, Loretta, and Cheryl. An involved parent, Delco served as president of an elementary school Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), a junior high school PTA, and a county PTA council. A life member of the Texas Congress PTA, Delco was also the first black elected to the school board of Travis County, Texas.
From 1974 to 1995, Delco served as a Democratic in the Texas House of Representatives, representing, District Fifty, Travis County. She was the first black legislator from District Fifty. Her commitment to education resounded through her legislative committee appointments. She served at least five consecutive legislative sessions as chairman of the House Higher Education Committee. She also served on the State, Federal, and International Relations committees.
After leaving the Texas state legislature in 1995, Delco remained active in community affairs. She served as chair of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Equality and Integrity for then U.S. Education Secretary Richard Rile. Delco cofounded and headed Vision Village, a nonprofit group. The organization worked toward building a neighborhood which would house unwed mothers, the elderly, and a school for students who were at risk of dropping out. Also, when then-governor George W. Bush signed a bill abolishing Capital Metro's board of directors in 1997, Delco was named to the transit agency's interim board. She has also taken a position as adjunct professor of education at the University of Texas.
Appointed 1994 by the Austin City Council. Delco has served as a university administrator at The University of Texas at Austin in various capacities including adjunct professor of the Community College Leadership Program and Special Assistant to the Office of the President. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professor of biology and has been published in scientific academic journals and book. Delco is also a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Board of the Boy Scouts of America.
E. L. Blackshear
Edward Lavoisier Blackshear, teacher and administrator, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on September 8, 1862, the son of Adlene Pollard and Abram Vandiver, who were slaves. Because his mother was a maid in the main house, he learned to read and write along with the white children of the Pollard family. He attended the first public school for African-American children in Montgomery and the Swayne School and Academy, established by the American Missionary Society there. In 1875 he entered Tabor College in Iowa, where he graduated in 1881 with Hightower T. Kealing. Blackshear taught in public schools for a year before joining Kealing in Waco in 1882. Blackshear's health failed during this year, and when he moved to Waco he first worked as a laborer putting up telegraph poles on the Texas-Midland Railroad. He afterwards attributed regaining his health to this labor and believed that physical, as well as intellectual, development was necessary for a well-educated person. He was soon hired to teach at Paul Quinn College, but in early 1883 he moved to Austin to teach at the Eighth Ward School. In the fall of 1883 he became principal of the Wheatsville School, and in May 1884 he was appointed principal of the summer normal school for black teachers to be held in Goliad. In 1888 he became the principal of the Central Grammar School and in 1892 the supervisor of all the African-American schools in Austin, as well as the principal of the high school, where he succeeded Kealing. He served as president of the Teachers State Association of Texas in 1903–04.
After his first wife died, he married Rachel Works. They had three children. In 1906 Governor James S. Hogg appointed Blackshear, a Democrat, to succeed Laurine C. Anderson, a Republican, as principal of Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College. While Blackshear was principal the school prospered. He earned a master's degree from Tabor College in 1902. But his success was not without its price, for the principalship at Prairie View was a political appointment. In the 1914 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Blackshear, a prohibitionist, supported Thomas H. Ballqv against the eventual winner, James E. Ferguson. The following year the newly inaugurated governor demanded that Blackshear be removed. Blackshear's explanation of his political activities failed to save his job. In that same year he was made head of government extension work for three states. He died on December 12, 1919, and is buried in Hempstead. Gregorytown School in Austin was renamed Blackshear School in his honor in 1936, when an extensive renovation and expansion program for the school began.
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