Her Story: Betty Square Coleman

Being involved in the community, standing up for yourself and letting your voice be heard were attributes instilled in Betty Square Coleman growing up. Square Coleman serves as president of the local NAACP chapter and on the city of Waxahachie Planning Zoning Commission.

Square Coleman said she was raised in a house that had a passion for politics, reading and writing. It was stressed that education was the key to success and one needed to understand what was going on in the community and where one stood politically.

“Back at that time, we had one television, a black and white,” she said. “We were raised to sit in front of the TV to listen to what was going on,” Square Coleman said. “When Dr. King and the efforts that were going on with the civil rights movement, my momma made sure that we were listening and that we understood.”

Square Coleman said education was stressed in her home because of the doors that it opened and the possibilities it could bring.

“My stepdad was a part of it but my mom was the one that pushed education and political awareness,” she said. “Then my grandfather was all about education because he grew up in a time when black people were not allowed to go to school or you were in a segregated school.

“If you were allowed to go to school you went but, most of the time, you were in the field and working,” she said. “My granddaddy could read and write but my grandmother had to sign with an X. [Education] was just pushed in our family.”

Square Coleman said she first became involved with the NAACP when the Oaklawn School was torn down on Wyatt Street in the 1980s. She said it was felt that the demolition of the building was done without the community’s knowledge.

“I would say community awareness is the main reason (for being involved),” she said. “In the past, you were discouraged to be at a public meeting and that your voice was not going to be heard.

“It is definitely a plus speaking your mind and having your voice be heard,” Square Coleman said. “That (Oak Lawn) became a turning point for me civil rights wise, politically wise, involvement wise, community-wise, city wise and whatever level that we could be at. The way that you could do that is you start attending public meetings – and the keyword is public. Once you start going and once you start doing, you learn the process. That is how I got involved in the NAACP.”

Throughout its history, the NAACP in Waxahachie has been able to make a positive difference and has brought people together from all walks of life, she said, noting that while steps have been made there is still work that needs to be done to safeguard civil rights.

“I think that the NAACP has a pretty decent name and that in the past we been at the forefront of every battle. We try to be at those now,” Square Coleman said. “I think that, across the board, there is this laid-back attitude of one like we have arrived and we have become where we need to be. The social and economic times we are experiencing now, we are heading back to a place that we don’t need to be, which is the stripping away of rights and the Civil Rights Act being attacked. That takes away the progress of the African American race, women and other minorities. You don’t have to be black to be a minority.”

Square Coleman said the NAACP is still active and ready and willing to help anyone who has a civil rights complaint.

“We are here to help out in any way that we can,” she said. “We fight discrimination in school, the workplace, injustice and indifference. We are here to fight against that and bring it to the forefront.

“The NAACP is always going to be needed,” she said. “Things may be right for now but as long as we have people and man’s inhumanity against man, there is always going to be a need. We continue to work together and need that person standing in the gap. You have to have someone to buffer for the people and the indifference.”

Square Coleman said she is proud of the actions taken by NAACP’s forefathers and noted the NAACP continues its planning for the future.

“We just want to grow and become more active,” she said. “We want to become more visible. We are working on setting up a Facebook page. We have that young energy on board.

“We want to improve our membership base and be viable and active here and throughout all cities in the county. We want all of Ellis County to know that we are active and other places too. We want to continue to be that beacon on the hill that is fighting injustice.”

While the NAACP branch is based in Waxahachie, it serves all of Ellis County, with all welcome to seek out its help or to become involved.

The NAACP office is located at 206 S. U.S. Highway 77 in Waxahachie and can be contacted at 972-937-2077 or by email at [email protected]. The NAACP is open for membership to everyone, with youth and adult memberships available.


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