Past Programs

Parallel and Crossover Lives:
Texas Before and After Desegregation


Meet the People

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. Interview transcript »

Rev. Lindsay Bowie

The Reverend Lindsay Bowie was born and reared in Big Sandy, attended high school classes at Jarvis and graduated from high school in Gladewater. While in college, Reverend Bowie was called into the ministry. He worked for Humble Oil and Refining Company before returning to college and received a bachelor’s degree from Texas College and a master’s degree from East Texas State University. The Reverend Bowie taught in Big Sandy and worked as principal in Big Sandy for 22 years before retiring in 1984. Interview transcript »

Dr. June Brewer

A native Austinite, Dr. June Brewer attended Olive Street Elementary, Kealing Junior High, [L.C.] Anderson High School and Huston-Tillotson College; she received her master’s degree from Howard University. Dr. Brewer notes that at that time African-Americans could not enroll in graduate school anywhere in the state. Dr. Brewer was among the very first students, just before the landmark Sweatt v. Painter case in 1950 opened the university to African-American students, to enroll at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Brewer earned her Ph.D. from UT-Austin and has spent most of her teaching career at Huston-Tillotson College. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Sweetie M. Brown

Born in Smith County, Texas, Mrs. Sweetie M. Brown grew up in Starville, Texas. Her grandfather came from Norfolk, Virginia in the1800s and settled in Oklahoma before moving to Starville. A resident of Big Sandy, Mrs. Brown is the mother of ten children, several of whom attended schools in Big Sandy. Gilmer and Gladewater. One of her daughters, Justine, was named valedictorian at Weldon High School in Gladewater. Another daughter, Alicia, received her PhD degree from Prairie View A&M. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Fuller Burns

Mrs. Fuller Burns was born in Pittsburg, Texas where she attended public schools. A graduate of Prairie View A& M College, Mrs. Burns majored in business with a minor in library science. After moving to Hawkins in 1963, Mrs. Burns taught at Fouke-Hawkins High School, Southside High School and Hawkins High School. She held simultaneous positions at Fouke-Hawkins and Southside as a teacher and a librarian. Mrs. Burns is the mother of five children. 
Interview transcript »

Dr. S. L. Curry

Dr. S. L. Curry is pastor of the New Zion Baptist Church in Winona, Texas. Although his full name is Sylvester Lawrence Curry, Jr., most people know him as S. L., the son of the late Sylvester Curry, Sr. and Dorothy Mae Hill Curry of Big Sandy. Born in Gladewater, Texas, Dr. Curry grew up in a community called Elem Springs. He attended Big Sandy Excelsior Elementary School and Fouke-Hawkins High School. Following integration, Dr. Curry graduated from Big Sandy High School. In 1971, Dr. Curry graduated from Jarvis Christian College and then worked for the federal government for more than 12 years. Since 1982, Dr. Curry has served as pastor of the New Zion Baptist Church, which was founded in 1870. Dr. Curry is married to the former Mary Ann Price, and they have three children: Debbie, Shannon and Rodney. Interview transcript »

Ms. Alice N. Darden Davis

Ms. Alice N. Darden Davis attended schools in Austin including Kealing Junior High School, [L.C.] Anderson High School and Reagan High School. One of seven children, Ms. Davis notes that she and her siblings grew up in East Austin, graduated from high school and all went on to higher education. Ms. Davis recently completed her master’s degree in education at Southwest Texas State University. Interview transcript »

The Honorable Wilhelmina Delco

A resident of Austin, Texas, the Honorable Wilhelmina Delco has held public office in three different levels of government: school board, community college and the state Legislature, for a total of 26 years. As the first African-American elected to the Austin school board, Mrs. Delco served on the board from 1968 to 1974. Mrs. Delco was elected to that position two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and she believes the strong emotional pull convinced people it was time to have diverse representation. Mrs. Delco’s platform was broader education, communication and community service. Currently, Mrs. Delco serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees of Huston-Tillotson College.

Mrs. Withell Hall

Mrs. Withell Hall was born and reared in Hawkins, Texas. She grew up at the Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club, a private club in Hawkins where her parents were employed. Mrs. Hall attended public school in Hawkins and is a graduate of Samuel Huston College in Austin. The college is now known as Huston-Tillotson College. Following college graduation in 1950, Mrs. Hall was offered a job by her former principal to teach at Hawkins Colored High School. After integration of the schools, Mrs. Hall was invited to teach at Hawkins High School, before being recruited by the president of the college to teach at Jarvis Christian College where her husband also was employed as an administrator. Interview transcript »

Mr. Odis Hammock

Born in Big Sandy, Texas, Mr. Odis Hammock attended school in Big Sandy, moved with his family to Fort Worth briefly, before returning to graduate high school in Big Sandy.

A few days after completing high school, Mr. Hammock enrolled at East Texas State Teachers College at Commerce, where he received a bachelor’s degree and began work on a master’s degree. At that time, World War II began and Mr. Hammock moved back to Big Sandy to assume responsibilities as school principal. Mr. Hammock taught math and science classes for 46 years, from 1942 to 1988, and served as both elementary and high school principal in the Big Sandy school system. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Ada M. Harden

Mrs. Ada M. Harden attended Olive Street Elementary School, Blackshear Elementary, Kealing Junior High and [L.C.] Anderson High School in Austin, Texas. Although she dropped out of school after the tenth grade and became a teenage parent, Mrs. Harden overcame those difficult experiences and encourages young people, especially young women, to work through their mistakes and make something of themselves. Mrs. Harden is well-recognized in the Austin community. She worked in the Austin Independent School District as a volunteer resource coordinator and developed a television program for the school system called “It’s Your Future” which focused on careers and career development. After producing 185 shows, Mrs. Harden’s work moved into movies and commercials. Mrs. Harden served as a commissioner for the City of Austin for women’s issues and was sent to Washington D.C. by the mayor recently as a representative of Austin women.

Mrs. Clara Henry-Kay

Mrs. Clara Henry-Kay, whose maiden is Henry, calls Hawkins, Texas home. Mrs. Henry-Kay was born in Hawkins, attended elementary through high school in Hawkins and graduated from Hawkins Colored High School in 1957. Following graduation, Mrs. Henry-Kay attended Grambling College. Both of Mrs. Kay’s parents attended Jarvis Christian College. Later in life, her parents owned and operated the Chatterbox Café, which catered to students, faculty and administrators at Jarvis. Mrs. Kay credits her parents and her coach and principal T.H. Burton for being instrumental in her life. A gifted athlete in tennis, Mrs. Kay played with Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. Despite the difficulties of segregation, Mrs. Henry- Kay and her teammates traveled to other states and competed with the best of athletes. After teaching in Louisiana, Mrs. Henry-Kay returned to Hawkins in 1972 where she taught and coached until 1994. Interview transcript »

Dr. Lorene Holmes

Born in Freeman Chapel, a small community near Mineola, Texas, Dr. Lorene Holmes moved to Hawkins when she was two years of age. The daughter of the late Jessie May Barnes and William Henry Barns, Dr. Holmes attended Big Sandy Elementary School and from seventh grade until she graduated in 1955, Dr. Holmes attended Hawkins Colored High School. Her college career began at Jarvis Christian College in 1955 where she received a bachelor of science degree in business. During the summers of 1964-1966, Dr. Holmes attended North Texas State University (now known as the University of North Texas), where she was awarded a master’s degree in business education. During the civil rights era, Dr. Holmes was enrolled at the University of North Texas and received a doctorate in education degree in 1970. Throughout her work life, Dr. Holmes has been employed at Jarvis Christian College in different areas from stenographer to associate professor of business to department chair of the business division for 25 years. Dr. Holmes also served as executive assistant to the president of the college, directed the alumni reclamation management program and currently serves as director of career management services. Dr. Holmes’ late husband is a Jarvis graduate as is her daughter. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Cynthia Sauls Houston

A lifelong resident of Austin, Mrs. Cynthia Sauls Houston attended L.L. Campbell Elementary School, Kealing Junior High School, [L.C.] Anderson High School and Reagan High School. Mrs. Houston was among the senior class transferred to Reagan when L. C. Anderson High School was closed during desegregation efforts in 1971. She remembers the school closing as a shock to the East Austin community and as a tumultuous time for the students at Anderson. A graduate of Huston-Tillotson, Mrs. Houston is an Austin schoolteacher. 
Interview transcript »

Mrs. Vivian Howard

Growing up in Austin, Texas, Mrs. Vivian Howard lived in the St. John’s community, which until 1965 was considered ‘country’ in the north part of Austin. After one year’s attendance at Anderson High School, an all-black school at the time, Mrs. Howard transferred to Reagan in 1965. Along with four other African-American classmates, Mrs. Howard was among the first to integrate Reagan High School prior to busing in the Austin school system. Today Mrs. Howard works for the City of Austin, Austin Energy and is a returning student to Huston-Tillotson. 
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Mrs. Lillian Gray Kerley

Born in Webberville, Texas, Mrs. Lillian Gray Kerley moved to Austin in 1930 from a farm in Manor, Texas. She graduated from Anderson High School in 1934 and then worked to help support her family—including picking cotton on nearby farms—before she returned to college. A graduate of Huston-Tillotson College, Mrs. Kerley received her master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Texas in 1959. Mrs. Kerley taught in public schools for 42 years, including 40 years in Austin schools and two years at Manor. In honor of her husband, Mrs. Kerley established a scholarship foundation. Today the foundation awards more than $30,000 in scholarships. 
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Dr. John King

A graduate of Anderson High School, Dr. King credits his teachers at every level for preparing him for academic success as he progressed from elementary to high school to college to graduate school. Dr. King is a graduate of Anderson High School and Fisk University in Nashville. Dr. King served in the military during World War II and in the Army Reserve as well. Dr. King was president of Huston-Tillotson College from 1965 to 1988. Interview transcript »

Ms. Eva June Lindsey

A fourth-generation native Austinite, Ms. Eva June Lindsey is a graduate of [L.C.] Anderson High School. She grew up in what is known as the Blackshear Prospect neighborhood, in the central part of East Austin. According to Ms. Lindsy, it is theoldest neighborhood association encompassing the area below the Huston-Tillotson College campus. Ms. Lindsey attended Blackshear Elementary School, Kealing Junior High and Anderson High School. For a brief time, Ms. Lindsey attended University Junior High School, an experimental junior high at the University of Texas at Austin. A graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Ms. Lindsey worked for the Austin Independent School District as a member of the initial team (Human Relations Team) that was hired to aid desegregation in Austin public schools. She also worked as a consultant with the Texas Educational Desegregation Technical Assistance Center (TEDTAC) to aid desegregation efforts in small school districts. Today Ms. Lindsey teaches at the junior college level. Interview transcript »

Mr. Robert Lowrance

Originally from East Texas, Mr. Robert Lowrance was born in Shelby County and attended Garrison High School. He is a 1936 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. Following college graduation, Mr. Lowrance worked as an assistant high school coach in Longview. Mr. Lowrance gives credit to Pete Shotwell, Longview’s high school coach at the time, for influencing his life’s work. In 1937, Longview won the state football championship. Also during that time period, Mr. Lowrance was an elementary school principal in Longview. After working at other school districts, Mr. Lowrance moved to Hawkins in 1948 where he taught social studies and coached for 27 years. During his tenure as coach, Mr. Lowrance’s teams won numerous district, regional, and state titles. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Jewell McCalla

Mrs. Jewell McCalla, whose parents were farmers, has lived in the Fouke-Hawkins community her entire life. She attended elementary school at the Rosenwald School in Fouke, Texas, high school at the Jarvis campus, and college at Jarvis Christian College with a major in education. At the time that Mrs. McCalla attended school, integration of the schools had not yet taken place. After college, Mrs. McCalla spent 44 years teaching classes in Wood County at Hawkins, Texas, before and after integration. On retirement, Mrs. McCalla was presented a quilt, which contains 42 blocks of different people reflecting on her tenure. The quilt is displayed on a wall in Mrs. McCalla’s home. 
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Ms. Jessie Palmer Moore

Originally from Teague, Texas, a small town near Corsicana, Mrs. Jessie Palmer Moore moved to Hawkins in 1949 when she married. Mrs. Moore taught in the Hawkins public schools from approximately 1957 to 1975. Mrs. Moore’s two daughters are also teachers, one of whom teaches in Hawkins and the other in Houston. Interview transcript »

Ms. Dorothy Orebo

Ms. Dorothy Orebo moved to Austin from California in November 1952 and graduated from [L.C.] Anderson High School in May 1953. She worked her way through college and graduated from Huston-Tillotson in 1957. After teaching for two years in Abilene, Ms. Orebo moved back to Austin where she taught at Kealing Junior High School and at Johnston High School. After serving as dean of women, an entry administrative position, at Johnston for four years, Ms. Orebo was named assistant principal at LBJ (Johnson) High School. She served as associate principal for six years and as principal of LBJ High School for 10 years. Although now retired, Ms. Orebo is often called back to work as an administrator at different levels within the Austin school system. Interview transcript »

Mr. Volma Overton

Mr. Volma Overton is a longtime leader of the East Austin community and worked with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in the interest of the East Austin community. Mr. Overton helped spearhead the desegregation movement in Austin. His daughter was the lead plaintiff in the legal case filed against the Austin Independent School District. According to Mr. Overton, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare initiated the desegregation suit against the school system. The Legal Defense Fund, which was then a part of the NAACP, encouraged local communities to file court suits to force desegregation of the school system. Thurgood Marshall was the attorney of record and Sam Bisco was the attorney for the local case. The suit was remedied in 1980 when the courts found that the Austin ISD schools discriminated against minority students. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Varee Robinson

Born and reared in Big Sandy, Texas, Mrs. Varee Robinson finished high school in Gladewater. She attended Texas College and then moved back to Big Sandy to work as an elementary school teacher. Mrs. Robinson has three children. Interview transcript »

Mrs. Ruth Davis Sauls

A resident of Austin, Texas, Ruth Davis Sauls attended [L.C.] Anderson High School. Following high school, Mrs. Sauls attended Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California for two years. A graduate of Huston-Tillotson College, Mrs. Sauls received her master’s degree from Southwest Texas State University. A gifted musician in her own right, she taught music and choir classes in the Austin Independent School District. Now retired, Mrs. Sauls also coordinated the Austin Citywide Youth Chorus. Interview transcript »

Mr. Tonny Simmons

Mr. Tonny Simmons, who grew up in the Sundale community, was a student in Hawkins before, during and after the integration period of the two school systems in Hawkins, Texas. From 1957 to 1966, Mr. Simmons attended Fouke-Hawkins High School, followed by a year at Southside High School, before transferring to Hawkins High School when the school integrated its classes. After graduation, Mr. Simmons worked at a lumber company, studied criminal justice at Kilgore Junior College, and served as a deputy sheriff. Mr. Simmons was the first black sheriff in Wood County. Interview transcript »

Mr. Reginald Smith

Reginald Smith grew up in East Austin where he attended Rosewood Elementary School and Kealing Junior High School. He is a 1955 graduate of [L.C.] Anderson High School where he was a student leader. As an adult Mr. Smith moved away from Austin. After his return from Michigan his sons attended the new Anderson High School located in northwest Austin. Interview transcript »

Ms. Winifred Jo Washington

Ms. Winifred Jo Washington, who was born in Hawkins, Texas, attended Hawkins public schools from 1959 to 1970, first at Fouke-Hawkins High School, and then at Hawkins High School where she graduated in 1970. In her interview, Ms. Washington provided her perspective on integration in Hawkins public schools from a student’s point of view. Interview transcript »

Mr. James R. "Coach" Wilson

In the fifties, Mr. James R. Wilson attended [L.C.] Anderson High School where he participated in basketball, as a member of a dance group, and in parades as a clown. As a youngster, Mr. Wilson always aspired to be a teacher. After graduating from high school, Mr. Wilson was offered scholarships by several colleges. He chose Huston-Tillotson College. Mr. Wilson first taught in the Smithville Independent School District and worked as assistant supervisor of all the playgrounds in the City of Austin. Today, Mr. Wlson serves as athletic director and associate professor in physical education at Huston-Tillotson. 
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Mrs. Bennie T. Wimberly

A resident of Hawkins since 1948, Mrs. Bennie T. Wimberly was a school teacher for 49 years. Mrs. Wimberly began her teaching career in her hometown of Brushy Creek where she taught classes for six years. During her tenure in Hawkins, Mrs. Wimberly taught eighth grade classes at Hawkins Colored High School and at Fouke-Hawkins High School which consolidated with the elementary school in 1950. At Hawkins Middle School following integration in the late 1960s, Mrs. Wimberly taught sixth grade classes. Mrs. Wimberly attended Butler College in Tyler for two years and took courses in reading and art at Jarvis Christian College and at other colleges in the Dallas area.