Austin school desegregation activist dies
Volma Overton, 81, was voice for civil rights throughout life
Austin civil rights leader Volma Overton died Monday morning at age 81. Overton was a key player in the
1960s civil rights movement, but is most well-known for the work he did to desegregate the city's public schools.
1950 graduate of Austin's Huston-Tillotson University, Overton served as the president of Austin's
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for 20 years. Before he became NAACP president in
1963, Overton worked with the U.S. Postal Service and was the postmaster of Cedar Creek.
Carolyn Jones wrote Overton's
biography in 1998. The book chronicles his work in the civil rights movement in addition to his impact on the movement in
In 2004, Overton spoke at a civil rights symposium
sponsored by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, which commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. In his speech,
Overton said, "I stand here tonight ... aware of the meaning and the purpose of honor. It is a symbol of our common striving,
our victories, our determination and our firm belief in the ultimate triumph of good, of freedom, of equality, which we all
Current Austin-chapter NAACP President Nelson Linder knew Overton well and said he was "very warm, very positive."
recalled Overton's devotion to the civil rights cause, especially in Austin,
as being "courageous." A couple of years ago, Linder said, a retired Overton attended an NAACP hearing early on a Saturday
morning to make a presentation that was "devoted, dedicated and helpful."
According to Janice Sumler-Edmond, a history
professor at Huston-Tillotson, the student body invited Overton to speak in 2003. He shared his experiences as a civil rights
activist, and Sumler-Edmond said she could see his dedication in the few interactions she had with him.
The Austin branch of the NAACP already has an award named after Overton,
in honor of his commitment to civil rights.
"He worked tirelessly. He's a legend," Linder said. "And he will be sorely
Copyright © 2005-2009 by Rev. Dr.
Ricardo E. Nuñez. All Rights Reserved.
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