WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While Wichita Falls might be a smaller city, it’s produced some pretty big names. There’s Charlye Ola Farris, the first Black woman licensed to practice law in the state of Texas. Large feats paved a way for the next generation of leaders.
“They really gave me formative years, Wichita Falls did,” United States Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver represents Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, but before he was walking the halls of Congress, he was walking the halls of Booker T. Washington High School
“I wish sometimes my kids had that experience, maybe for a month or two so they could really get a chance to see what its like, the teachers were just absolutely amazing,” Cleaver said.
An influence that another Booker T. alum will agree with
“We could actually see people who were up [and] coming or who have already arrived. That’s why I wanted to be a career woman because I saw it [and] I wanted to be it,” Dr. Anngienetta Johnson said.
Dr. Johnson has had a career full of milestones at none other than NASA. In fact, she was the first African American to manage a front-room console position in mission control. She was able to do that because of the values instilled in her in Wichita Falls
“It’s not many that had less than Master degrees, they went on [and] did great. Even before them, Emanuel Cleaver! He’s one of many,” Dr. Johnson said.
Cleaver broke down barriers too, he became the first Black mayor of Kansas City in 1991. He credits his interest in politics to his mother
“When the first black person ran for city council, my mother was his campaign manager, the Democratic party wanted to organize, well call Marie Cleaver,” Cleaver said.
While these two have gone on to do great things, they challenge the next generation to aim even higher.
“The young people there today need to understand that all of the things they are enjoying now, we did not enjoy,” Cleaver said.
Because now the possibilities are endless.
“We are responsible for what the future’s going to be, we’ve got to dream it [and] then make it happen,” Dr. Johnson said.
You can find more information about Congressman Cleaver by clicking here.