Dallas-Fort Worth Black Living Legends: Oration

Dr. Yvonne Ewell, 1987

Dr. Yvonne Ewell (1926 - 1998) made many contributions to education and community activism during her time as an educator in Dallas. In 1978, she was appointed Associate Superintendent of Dallas Independent School District, making her the highest-ranking Black school district administrator in Texas at the time. From 1981 to 1984, she acted as the court-appointed school desegregation monitor for the Dallas school district, which allowed her to work with community members to plan for the creation of magnet schools. In 1987, Dr. Ewell was elected to the Dallas School Board as representative for District 5, where she served for ten years, as an advocate for students.

More information on Dr. Ewell can be found on the Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas.

Rev. Zan W. Holmes Jr., 1991

Reverend Zan W. Holmes Jr. (1935 - ) attended Huston-Tillotson University before earning his Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Rev. Holmes served as pastor of the Hamilton Park United Methodist Church in Dallas for seven years beginning in 1958. In 1968, he became the United Methodist District Superintendent of the North Texas Conference, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives the same year. In 1971, Rev. Holmes was appointed to serve as chairperson for the Tri-Ethnic Committee working to oversee desegregation in the Dallas Independent School District. In 1997, Rev. Holmes became senior pastor at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, where he served until 2002, and he became the first Black member of the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System in 1991. Rev. Holmes has been active in various community, civil rights, and religious organizations throughout his life and career. He has received numerous honors for his work, including being recognized as one of the Civil Rights Movement’s “Invisible Giants” by the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama.

Dr. Versia Lindsay Lacy, 1992

Dr. Versia Lindsay Lacy (1923 - 2010) was the first Black recipient of a Ph.D. in Radiation Biology and Microbiology from Texas Women’s University, in 1973. During her career, she received numerous fellowships and grants to support her ongoing research. Dr. Lacy took on a career in higher education, teaching at Paul Quinn College, Tyler Junior College, Bishop College, Texas Southern University, and Texas Women’s University, as well as the Science and Engineering Magnet in Dallas ISD. She received hundreds of requests during her lifetime to speak across the country, from organizations holding national meetings. Her speaking skills, both as keynote and as teacher, helped her inspire her audiences. She served in many science and professional organizations, including Board for the Science Teacher and National Council of Negro Women to name a few.

Minister Isaiah Karriem, 1993

Minister Isaiah Karriem (1920 - 1993) was one of 19 children and he left home in Dallas at the age of 19 in search of himself. Karriem moved to Washington, DC where he joined the Nation of Islam (NOI). He spent three years in prison for refusing to register with the Selective Service Board, after which he began taking on leadership roles in the Nation of Islam to organize the Black members around the country. Karriem became a Minister in the NOI, and worked closely under its leader Elijah Muhammad and to some degree with Malcolm X. Karriem helped to establish many mosques on the East Coast, as well as one in South Dallas.

Rev. Louie Belvet George, 1994

Reverend Louie Belvet George (1916 - 2007) was the child of a Reverend, and was called to the church at an early age. He attended Southern Bible School and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, to prepare for his calling in the church. George held various positions before taking on his longest term as pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Fort Worth, where he served for 27 years before retiring. During his 73 year long career, George spoke around the world, but also worked to serve his local community and the church. He served as the Vice President of the Texas Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, as the Vice President-at-large for the Texas Baptist Convention, and was a member of the Board of Regents of Baylor University, the Fort Worth Zoological Board, and the board of directors for Tarrant Bank. George was a life long member of the NAACP, as well as a 33rd degree Mason.

Dorothy N. Cole Davis, 1995

Dorothy N. Cole Davis (1933 - ) has spent her life as an educator and leader in her community. She earned her bachelor’s in English and Speech and a master’s in Communications from Southwestern Baptist Theological University, and Master of Education in Reading from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and completed Doctoral studies at University of North Texas. She taught for 34 years, teaching students from sixth grade to junior college in the Fort Worth Independent School District and the Tarrant County College system. She has served on numerous community service organizations, supporting education and the Black community, such as the NAACP, United Negro College Fund, and PUSH Excel to name a few. Since ending her teaching career, Davis has become a sought after inspirational and diversity speaker. Her husband Rev. Nehimiah Davis was the long-time pastor at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, where Davis coordinated youth worship for over 25 years. In 2008, she published the book …And Forbid Them Not…, a manual for involving children in worship.

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