Nonprofit raising money to honor first African American woman lawyer in Texas

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture is raising money to honor the legacy of Wichita Falls’ very own Charlye Farris.

Charlye was the first African American woman licensed to practice law in Texas and the first African American attorney in Wichita Falls. The alliance is raising money for a bronze sculpture to be installed on the lawn of the Wichita County Courthouse.

“If anybody is going to recognize the legends in our community, it should be us,” Brittney Cottingham, Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture community engagement manager, said. “It should start here.”

The alliance has big fundraising plans this year for Texoma Gives.

“She grew up here in Wichita Falls, she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and she is the first African American woman to practice law in the entire state,” Cottingham said.

The alliance chose to honor Charlye for not only what she accomplished but what she had to go through to achieve these things.

“She was working at the courthouse, they had segregated bathrooms, separate break rooms and separate water fountains, and she was still able to persevere and that’s the one word I would use to describe her,” Cottingham said.

“It feels great,” Tory Farris, son of Charlye Farris, said. “My mother’s whole career was here and just the amount of things and the number of people that she helped, not just here in Wichita Falls, I mean you could probably go to any state and somebody see the name Farris and the question is are you related to Charlye Farris?”

The family said they couldn’t have picked a better place to honor their mother than right where it all started at the county courthouse in her hometown.

“I’m very thankful for the arts council, for Midwestern just for the things that they’ve done thus far and just excited to see this monument go up at the courthouse, which is just right across the street from her office,” Tory said.

“She was very humble and she’s not someone to brag about her accomplishments, so for them to be able to honor her in this way is beautiful to see,” Cottingham said.

If you are interested in donating, early giving is ongoing until the day of Texoma Gives on Sept. 8. For more information, click here.