In conjunction with the Oak Lawn Turner High School reunion, four additional names were inscribed on the Freedman Memorial.
The memorial, located on MLK Jr. Boulevard, is a loving tribute to brave and entrepreneurial individuals that made the Freedman community an integral part of the City of Waxahachie.
Those recently inscribed include Easter B. Fleming who served as a federal government official, Bobbie J. Mitchell, a Denton County commissioner; Mary L. Tempton, an author; and James Russell Williams, an athlete.
To receive a nomination, an individual must have been born or lived in Waxahachie, made a contribution or noteworthy achievement and live in good character.
EASTER BUTLER FLEMING
Fleming was born in Waxahachie in 1943 and lived on Gerald Street until she finished high school and left town. Her education started with her grandmother, whose knowledge and common sense she relied on to guide her most of her life.
Topics her grandmother discussed did not hit reality until Fleming was an adult. For instance, "She would tell me because I was really smart as a little girl, 'It's good to have a book sense, but don't be a fool, you gotta have common sense too.'"
"What I am and who I am and what I have done in life is certainly credited to the people who surrounded me when I was young cause they're the ones that put it all together and got me to understand certain things and what certain things had to be done, so you can't escape that," Fleming said. "You cannot escape your heritage. Like the genes; whatever is in your genes, in your parents' genes, you might as well get ready, cause here it comes."
Fleming attended Prairie View A&M University and obtained her degree in mathematics. She went on to teach math subjects for four years at W.D. Spigner High School, located in Calvert, Texas. She then worked for the Social Security Administration, which was the beginning of her government career. She worked in Bryant, Texarkana and finally Dallas where she transferred to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She worked as a program analyst in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in the Fort Worth Regional Office and managed five states.
Mitchell currently serves as the Denton County Pct. 3 Commission and can trace back her more than 30-year political career to a single water bill.
Her daughter had just left for college in 1985, and Mitchell finally had the time to ask questions about the raised water bill.
"At the time, I just wanted to see what was going on, why the water bills were going up," Mitchells said. "And the way to do that is to get involved to see, so that's why I did. I'm pretty nosey. I like to know what's going on."
Mitchell was elected Lewisville's first black mayor and third woman to hold office. From 1993 — 2000, Mitchell helped manage city government that responded to demands of a rapidly growing population.
James Kunke, the city's community and tourism director, said that while Mitchell's main goal was not to break social barriers in the city, some of those barriers were broken in the process.
"One thing Bobbie Mitchell did was she really strengthened the sense of unity within this community in Lewisville," Kunke said. "People didn't look at Bobbie Mitchell as a black mayor, they just looked at her a mayor."
Mitchell has served in numerous local, state and national boards and commissions.
Mitchell was elected into her current position as a county commissioner in 2000 and also served on the North Texas Central Texas Council of Government Board of Directors from 1996 until the present, and served as president in 2012.
She lived in Waxahachie with her grandfather John Hughes but moved before she started school.
MARY L. TEMPTON
Tempton was born and raised in Waxahachie, attended Oak Lawn Elementary and graduated salutatorian from Turner High School. She later earned a Licensed Vocational Nursing certificate from W.C. Tenery Hospital and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Prairie View A&M University.
She traveled extensively with her husband, Colonel Willie A. Tempton, and their four children, Willie Jr. Michelle, Gerald and Sharon. Tempton returned as often as possible and was instrumental in the street pavements in Waxahachie East. She also led a Cub Scouts group.
While her husband served as interim president of Prairie View A&M University, Tempton served as the first lady.
Tempton is known for the children's safety book she authored and published.
Tempton enjoys special times with her 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
JAMES R. "SKIN" WILLIAMS
Born on Feb. 25, 1943, Williams graduated from Turner High School in 1961. He was recruited for an athletic scholarship to Prairie View A&M University and was later drafted by the Houston Oilers professional football team.
He enlisted into the U.S. Army and was subsequently selected as an All-Army performer in both basketball and football while stationed in Germany.
Williams was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 as a member of the 1963 Prairie View Panthers Championship team. While a Panther, Williams played as a quarterback and defensive safety.
Williams passed away on Jan. 28, 2011 and is survived by his daughter Carla Williams who still resides in Waxahachie, as does many members of his family.
THE CEREMONY CONTINUES
The program that took place on Saturday opened with a prayer of dedication led by Rev. Broderick Sargent. Sargent's grandparents Delmar and Gertrude Erskin and Ira and Myrtle Sargent donated the land for Freedman Memorial Plaza.
Patrons gathered for the "Negro National Anthem."
Waxahachie City Councilman Charles Chuck Beatty gave the acknowledgments that included the City of Waxahachie, Waxahachie Parks and Recreation Department, Giles Monument, Dunkin Sims Stoffels, Sylvia Smith, Black Academy of Art and Culture and Ellis County Museum.
If interested in making a nomination mail to Chuck Beatty at P.O. Box 2634 Waxahachie, Texas 75165 or text the submission to 972-935-2211.