WAXAHACHIE — The granite monument at Freedman Memorial Plaza stands as a beacon of inspiration as it highlights the contributions of generations from Waxahachie’s black community. This Saturday five more names will be added to the memorial, further honoring their legacies.
This year’s inductees include Eddie Hugh Allen, Dr. Jamal Randy Allen Rasheed, Ricky Don Sargent, Jesse Richard Tave and Oscar Lee Turner. The ceremony will take place Saturday, July 1 at 11:30 a.m. at the plaza located in the 400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Waxahachie. There will also be a parade at 10 a.m., which follows a biannual dedication as a part of the Oak Lawn and Turner High School Reunion that begins at 9:30 a.m.
Established in 2006 Freedman Memorial Plaza is dedicated to honoring the struggles and lasting contributions of black residents.
The architectural features of the memorial honor history, as well. Such as the rows on the concrete path that lead into the memorial symbolize cotton and the broken chains on the ground commemorate the end of slavery and emancipation. The path into the plaza is winding, which symbolizes hollowed ground.
The names inscribed on the memorial located in the center of the plaza include local business owners, doctors, lawyers, builders, aviators, community leaders and public servants.
“The memorial is dedicated to the men and the women who had the entrepreneurial spirit that made the East side or the Freedman community an integral part of the City of Waxahachie," said Chuck Beatty, event organizer and Waxahachie City Councilman. "So you had the black city council. You had the Commerce staff. You had the clubs. The little stores and the movie theater. That was the whole center of the Black neighborhood called Freedman.
"We are just paying tribute to the people that made contributions to that side of town or to Ellis County and the world really. We are just trying to pay tribute by putting their name on the wall and making them immortal.”
Dr. Jamal Randy Allen Rasheed
Rasheed is the founder, president and CEO of the Ellis County African-American Hall of Fame. The hall of fame honors residents who have made an impact in the community but also historical figures hailing from Africa. It also connects the residents with history, as the hall tells of such historical events as the slave trade, Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement.
Rasheed is also the president of the Prince Hall Fraternal Cemetery Association, which operates the Fraternal Cemetery under the Ellis County African Hall of Fame Foundation. He is currently a sociology professor at Eastfield College in Mesquite and is a teacher of theatre arts at DeSoto East Middle School.
“I am very, very excited because that monument and that wall represents a lot of great people who have done great things in the City of Waxahachie for the African American Community,” Rasheed said. “To be listed among those great people is an honor. To still be allowed to carry on the traditions, which they started. To continue to educate and uplift our community and to make things better for people in our community just gives me the honor to be listed among those great people.”
Rasheed stated that there are more people in the community whose efforts remain unsung and unrecognized. He added that, through the efforts of the museum and hall of fame, they intend to recognize the efforts of those people.
“My hope the youth and the children of the community have the opportunity to read that wall and research that wall and look back and say to themselves that we can be as great as the members that are on this wall,” Rasheed said. “It is our responsibility to move forward and pick up the torch where they left off.”
Ricky Don Sargent
Sargent is a 1978 graduate of Waxahachie High School and holds a holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop Arts College in Dallas. He was an assistant coach for Waxahachie for 16 years. During Sargent’s coaching career he has made three state title games appearances —
the 1992 appearance as an assistant with Waxahachie, in 2004 with Jasper and as a head coach with Hempstead. He also was a coach with Southwestern Assemblies of God University. During his time at the University, he was named Red River Athletic Conference Track Coach of the Year in 2000. Sargent is currently the head football coach and athletic director at Hearne High School.
“I really can’t put it into words. It is truly an honor. I am humbled by it and very appreciative of it that my name will go down on Freedman Memorial, a place where I grew up,” Sargent said. “I'm just truly honored and humbled by the nomination.”
Sargent added that having a place like Freedman Memorial is important because keeps the past alive for future generations to know and remember.
Jesse Richard Tave
According to the nomination letter submitted to Beatty, Tave was born on June 11, 1893, in Lindale. Tave served as a member of Waxahachie’s Black City Council and worked at Marchman’s department store in downtown Waxahachie for 40 years. He also was a member of the Wyatt Street Christian Church where he served as an elder of the church and taught Sunday school. He was married to Cora Lee Gray-Mitchum and was the father of two daughters. Tave later became the secretary of the regional district of Christian churches and the treasure for the state and national Christian Church Conventions.
He passed away on May 1, 1965.
Eddie Hugh Allen
According to the Together We Served website, Allen was a private first class assigned to the Third Battalion Fourth Marine Regiment in Mike Company, who was known as the Thundering Third as a rifleman. He lost his life on May 27, 1968, in the Quang Tri province of Vietnam.
Beatty said Allen was only 21 years old when he was killed in action during the Vietnam War and had only been in a country for one day.
Oscar Lee Turner
According to his obituary from the Jackson Funeral Home, Turner was a graduate of Turner High School in Waxahachie in 1955. He enlisted in the Navy on June 3, 1955. During his time in the Navy, Turner was awarded several commendations that included the Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal from the Secretary of the Navy in March of 1973.
Turner retired after 20 years of military service in 1975, achieving the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. Following his military service, Jackson joined the Defense Logistics Agency where he was responsible for aircraft quality control at both McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics. He retired from the agency in 1994. Turner was a graduate of Chapman College in Orange, California earning a Bachelors of Arts degree in business management. He was married for 58 years to Barbara Chiles.
Beatty encourages the community to come out and take part in this Saturday's celebration. The dedication is a part of the Oak Lawn and Turner High School Reunion that takes place every two years. A brief ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the former Oak Lawn School site located in the 500 block of Wyatt St. The ceremony honors the history of the two schools, staff members, students and alumni that have passed away.
Following the dedication is a parade to Freedman Memorial Plaza that will begin at 10 a.m. The parade route runs to Getzendaner to Jefferson to Cliff Street and will end at the Memorial.