The accomplishments of Wichita Falls attorney Charlye O. Farris will be honored with a Texas Historical Marker at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 23, at the Wichita County Courthouse. In conjunction with the dedication, Midwestern State University professor Dr. Kenneth Hendrickson Jr. will sign copies of his biography of Farris, She Opened Many Doors: The Life and Career of Charlye O. Farris, just released through the Midwestern State University Press.
Farris was the first African-American woman admitted to the Texas State Bar, the first African-American judge in the South since Reconstruction and the first woman to practice law in Wichita County. As a law student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she was part of the class that worked on the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education. Farris was appointed to the MSU Board of Regents in 2006, and served until her death in 2010. The Texas Historical Commission issued a special dispensation to allow a marker for Farris in less than the required number of years, because of her significant contributions to racial and gender equality.
Hendrickson, Regents Professor and Hardin Distinguished Professor of American History Emeritus, served as chairman of MSUís history department for 36 years. He has written 13 books in addition to many scholarly articles, essays, and book reviews. He is the past president of the Texas Oral History Association, the East Texas Historical Association, and the national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta.
Rob Jones, past chairman of the Texas State Bar Standing Committee on History and Preservation, will present the memorial resolution from the State Bar honoring Farris. Family members will unveil the marker.