Charles "Chuck" Beatty is, and always will be, the lone graduate of Waxahachie's Turner High School to play a down in the NFL.
Yet, most have never heard the story of Beatty and the Tuner High Lions. Many of those who have, would rather forget that segregated period of American history.
Even still, Beatty is not defined by his four seasons on the gridiron with the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Cardinals. Nor is Beatty a simple graduate of then-North Texas State University, where he was named an All-Missouri Valley Conference cornerback in 1967.
His impact also extends well beyond any of his three hall-of-fame honors.
The Midlothian-born, Waxahachie-raised Beatty is a poster child for perseverance, as he refused to let circumstances of the oft-hostile time define him.
For as long as Beatty can remember, even before his first NFL interception or mayoral gavel tap, he has truly had a single desire: One Waxahachie.
The moniker began on a basketball court while playing in a pick-up game against players from the then-all-white Waxahachie High School.
Beatty is a 1964 graduate of Turner High School in Waxahachie.
It was a school assigned to Black residents, which also meant the Turner High Lions were not afforded the opportunity to participate in the then-white-only UIL. They instead played in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, but would often take any and every opportunity to play in exhibition games against Waxahachie High School when the opportunities arose.
These contests included quite a few basketball games played at First United Methodist Church. He even explained that coaches from both schools would be in attendance to watch, which led Beatty to begin to ponder, "what if."
"Growing up with a lot of those guys that went to Waxahachie High and playing against them, we could kind of see the possibilities of 'One Waxahachie' untied together," Beatty recalled. "[...] The coaches would be there and they would look and see all of the talent and it would make us wish we had all of this talent in one school."
"If you didn't have no game, you couldn't get on the court," he laughed. "Those guys would go to state every year and we would go to state every year. There were some great games. We began to think, if we can get along in sports, then why can't we get along in other aspects of life. Then the coaches would be there and looking and asking why they couldn't have all of that talent together on one team, instead of having two teams and it being divided. It was sports that brought it all together."
When asked about the rivalry, Beatty eased back a little deeper in his chair, placed both hands one of the other atop his walking cane and smiled. He then described those basketball games between the Lions and Indians as being "fun" and added a hearty laugh.
Despite their hand-me-down athletic gear and substandard facilities, Beatty and the all-Black Tuner High Lions competed and competed well, often besting their cross-town rivals.
See, the two schools were powerhouses of their time, each forced to ponder the potential of what could be if there were "One Waxahachie."
Beatty soon realized that athletics had a way of unifying a community, even one divided by racial lines.
That realization also drove a then-teenage Beatty to make a promise to his childhood mentor and war hero, George Brown, to find a way to unite Waxahachie.
At the age of 18 and before ever stepping foot on a collegiate or professional football field, Beatty vowed to lead his hometown out of its racially-segregated dark ages and into an era of peace, acceptance and prosperity.
"George Brown was my mentor. He was my hero and was one of the guys who kept me on the straight and narrow," Beatty said. "He drove me to North Texas and, during that conversation on the way up, he was talking about the city and I told George that, one of these days, I was going to come home and do something for the community. For George to take the time out of his schedule to take me up to the University of North Texas, I just knew I had to come back and do something for somebody."
His career at now-University of North Texas did not begin smoothly, however.
A bothersome leg injury led Beatty to have a gap year between his high school graduation and his first athletic season at North Texas State University, though it was not football related. Beatty explained it came about because of "horseplaying" incident that resulted in broken glass and a whole lot more blood.
Beatty admitted he could have given up, without much extra thought, on any professional football or basketball careers during that time away from the university while his leg healed.
Thankfully, he did not.
Beatty returned to athletic activities in the fall of 1965, playing both football and basketball that year at NTSU, which is now known as the University of North Texas.
He eventually elected to focus his time on football, and it quickly paid off with his selection as the All-Missouri Valley Conference cornerback in 1967.
Beatty starred on the same defense as future NFL Hall of Famer "Mean" Joe Greene. He also later served as the best man in Greene's wedding.
"We were roommates together my first year at North Texas, and mayor Beatty was always, always involved in everything that we did as far as organizing the defense, being a leader of the defensive backs and being a leader of the defense," Greene said during a phone interview with the Daily Light. "He was always pulling us together."
Greene added, "He is always a guy that you can depend on and can call on for anything. He is a very, very special man and he continues to be the guy that is involved with folks and involved with his community. He used to tell us that he was going to make Waxahachie famous, and he has. He is a special man and a true friend."
Greene also recalled one particular trip to Waxahachie when Beatty took him through the George Brown Plaza, which serves as the unofficial Black hall of fame just a few blocks off of downtown.
"That was really, really, really special and that just shows the character of Mr. Charles Beatty. He is a special guy and I am proud to call him my friend."
Following a successful collegiate career, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Beatty in the seventh round of the 1969 NFL draft. The selection also ensured that Beatty would be the one and only professional athlete, regardless of sport, in the history of Turner High School. He joins several other Waxahachie High graduates to represent his hometown, however.
Beatty recorded four interceptions and one defensive touchdown over 30 games with the Steelers from 1969-72. Shortly after being released by the Steelers in the middle of the 1972 season, Beatty caught on with the St. Louis Cardinals for the final four games of his NFL career.
He then joined the Florida Blazers of the since-defunct World Football League in 1974. The team played 20 games that season, including an appearance in the one-and-only World Bowl against the Birmingham Vulcans, which ended with the Vulcans holding on for a 22-21 win.
Beatty returned to the WFL for the 1975 season, this time with the San Antonio Wings. He played in all 13 games before the league folded. Beatty recorded one interception in each season in the WFL.
The trip to San Antonio also allowed for Beatty to reconnect with his father, Elijah Marshall Beatty, who spent most of Beatty's childhood deployed overseas with the U.S. Army. Because of that, Beatty, who also served in the U.S. Army National Guard, was raised by his grandmother, Myrtle Sargent.
It was also then that Beatty reestablished his connection with the Boy Scout of America, an organization he first joined as a Cub Scout at the urging of his elementary principal, E.B. Wedgeworth. Beatty served the Boy Scouts in an executive capacity for 30 years. He spent the majority of that tenure in The Circle Ten Council of Boys Scouts of America, which includes most of North Texas. He helped facilitate programs and opportunities for scout packs and troops within the council and district.
Beatty eventually returned home to Waxahachie, a place that when he last resided was still wrought with racial tension amid desegregation. Yet, even though the discriminatory signs above bathrooms and water fountains were long gone, Beatty still saw a city and community divided.
The realization sparked a new form of courage within Beatty, one that pushed him to run for public office with an agenda focused on uniting and finally forging "One Waxahachie."
He was first elected to the Waxahachie City Council in 1995 and was then named mayor two years later. His five-year stint as the mayor is matched only by Kevin Strength (2014-19) as the longest tenure in the city's history.
Beatty still serves on the council, uninterrupted, to this day.
Beatty has also since been elected to the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, the UNT Hall of Fame in 2003 and PVIL Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
In addition to being named the Outstanding Citizen by the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce in 2011, Beatty continues to work tirelessly to rid the Waxahachie community of racial tensions and divides.
Beatty lives a life with purpose and serves as an inspiration to many, which made the decision to name the courage award associated with the All-Ellis County prep sports banquet after the Waxahachie icon.
"It's a great honor to have this award named after me, the Chuck Beatty Courage Award," he said. "I never had dreamed of anything like that. But it's a big honor and I really appreciate it. I hope that, in some way, it will inspire a kid to go on and do something great for somebody else."