District Names School in Honor of Woman Who Served as Town’s First and Only Black Mayor

by Xara Aziz

The first and only Black woman to serve as mayor of Fulshear, Texas will have a school named after for her trailblazing efforts in public service.

Viola Gilmore Randle died in 2020 at the age of 96, but the outpouring of love from her community has remained long after her passing. She is regarded as a selfless humanitarian, leader and public servant who dedicated her life to help others.

Community members voted in favor of the construction of the school after Proposition A was passed last week. Proposition A will provide $1.3 million in funding for land sites and construction of five new schools. The school named in Randle’s honor will be build in Lamar CISD, one of the fastest growing districts in Texas that holds roughly 42,000 students.

“I hope the students who will go to Viola Gilmore Randle Elementary will remember who she was. She was a community and public servant. She was a pioneer. She was a Fulshear icon. She was a mainstay up until she passed,” said Alex Hunt, who serves as the president for Lamar CISD’s Board of Trustees.

Randle was born during slavery on July 26, 1924 and spent most of her childhood picking cotton and growing vegetables. She would end up becoming a business owner, activist and mayor in the town where her family were sharecroppers.

“That was a big thing, especially being an African American woman. It was a lot to overcome, because in those days, a lot of women weren’t respected in their roles,” said Randle’s great nephew. “She went against racial issues and we took all that to heart. It’s still with us today. Go after what you want, dream big, and don’t put limitations on anything you do.”

He added that his great aunt helped to raise him and he vividly remembers when Randle became the first female African American city councilmember before being elected mayor in the 90s.

“She was small in stature but big in voice. She was full of life, energy, and encouragement. She was known throughout the community as one of those pillars. She took time to get to know new people and welcomed everybody. I think that’s one thing many people remember about her,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be very powerful, especially for young Black girls to see Viola Randle’s statue and hear about her influence on the community. We hope they will learn that they can do that with their own lives,” said Lamar CISD Superintendent Dr. Roosevelt Nivens.

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