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Ada Anderson

Civic leader and philanthropist Ada Anderson has been highly acclaimed for her civil rights work. She was born October 2, 1921 in Austin, Texas to Cecilia and Walter Collins – the fourth of nine children. In 1937, Anderson graduated from L.C. Anderson High School which remained segregated until 1971. She went on to Tillotson College, graduating with her B.S. degree in home economics in 1941.

After college, Anderson worked for the Texas Employment Commission as an employment counselor creating workshops and seminars on dealing with finances, aimed particularly at women. She went on to teach for the Austin Independent School District and worked as a psychometrist. In 1951, she finished the coursework for a M.S. degree in library science. However, she could not complete the degree as the school would not allow her to attend the program’s required fieldwork at the state library. This experience enforced Anderson’s commitment to civil rights. In 1951, she gained co-ownership of the real estate and insurance firm Anderson-Wormley with her husband, Andy Anderson. Two years later she helped found the Austin chapter of Jack and Jill of America and worked as both a National corresponding secretary and its South Central regional director. In 1965, Anderson earned her M.S. degree in educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and completed graduate courses in business and finance at Northwestern University. A landmark election occurred in 1982 when Anderson was the first African American to win a countywide election in Travis County to serve on the Austin Community College Board.

Anderson is the recipient of many accolades including her entrance in the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame and the African American Women’s Hall of Fame both in 1986. In 1992 she was named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Symphony League of Austin and in 1999 she co-chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Austin Independent School District. Her ties to the school board remained strong and in 2006 she was celebrated by the Austin School District Board of Trustees as an Outstanding Alumna in their Alumni Hall of Fame.

Ada Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 13 and 14, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.011

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/13/2010 |and| 5/14/2010

Last Name

Anderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Huston-Tillotson University

University of Texas at Austin

L.C. Anderson High School

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

First Name

Ada

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

AND10

Favorite Season

October

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Wiesbaden, Germany

Favorite Quote

You Can Find Mediocrity Anyplace And Anytime, But Not On My Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/2/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Community leader Ada Anderson (1921 - ) was the first African American elected to the board of the Austin Community College District. For her work with civil rights, she received several awards, including 'Woman of the Year.'

Employment

Anderson-Wormley Real Estate

Austin Independent School District

Texas Employment Commission

Favorite Color

Pastel

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ada Anderson's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson talks about her paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's land in Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's property in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson talks about the founding of Pilot Knob Elementary School in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson talks about her paternal family's land in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal grandparents' home

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers her relationship with her paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal aunts' and uncles' duties on the farm

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers her childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes the history of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson lists her father's siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson lists her father's siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes the geography of Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal grandfather's family background

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson talks about her maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her family's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson lists her mother's siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson talks about the memorials to her family in Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the history of education in Pilot Knob, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes the history of education in Pilot Knob, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes her family's community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson describes her mother's personality and talents

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her parents' education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers her father's role in the community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson talks about her neighbors in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her parents' finances

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes the expectations of her as a young girl

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson remembers a flood in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson describes her earliest memory of school

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ada Anderson remembers bird watching with her older brother

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Ada Anderson describes her family's holiday traditions

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Ada Anderson describes her grandfather's first car

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Ada Anderson remembers her father's farmhands

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal aunts' occupations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes the geology of her family's land

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers the faculty of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson remembers Tillotson College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes her teaching career

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson remembers her wedding

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson talks about women's rights in Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her access to her own finances

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls the birth of her children

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls her return to Austin, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson recalls integrating the library program at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls her experiences of discrimination at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson talks about her master's degree in educational psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson remembers working at the Texas Employment Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes the discrimination at the Texas Employment Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls investigating employment discrimination in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson remembers founding the Austin Human Relations Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson describes her civil rights activism in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson remembers the disenfranchisement of African Americans in Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson describes her master's thesis

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls becoming a psychologist for Austin Independent School District

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson recalls conducting aptitude tests for the Austin Independent School District

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson remembers a student she diagnosed with a learning disability

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson recalls founding a real estate firm with her husband

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls founding a life insurance company with her husband

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers meeting Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her support of John Connally's gubernatorial campaign

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson remembers Texas Governor John Connally's inaugural ball

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes her friendship with President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls the integration of the Austin Independent School District

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her children's experiences in integrated schools

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls the closure of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson remembers her election to the board of the Austin Community College District

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson describes her board service at the Austin Community College District

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson remembers founding the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson recalls traveling with the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing an exhibit at the LBJ Library

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes the discrimination against African American artists

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing the 'Our New Day Begun' exhibit, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing the 'Our New Day Begun' exhibit, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson talks about her inclusion in 'Black Texas Women: 150 Years of Trial and Triumph'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls being honored by the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson recalls her role in the construction of the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson talks about the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Ada Anderson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

1$6

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's land in Austin, Texas
Ada Anderson describes the discrimination at the Texas Employment Commission
Transcript
In 1872 he [Anderson's paternal great-grandfather, Newton Isaac Collins] purchased his first land, that's the first that we have, we're aware of. And he bought ninety-two and a half acres. And the improvements he put on it was, I mean, again I'm, I'm quoting from the written document, large two story house for his family, and a well, two barns, and a tenant house for a tenant to farm the land and while he was, his--he was working in his construction company. And the tenant was supposed to, from when his sons got old enough from time to time teach them farming. Newton Isaac also when they got old enough would take one and then another of his sons to teach them the building trade. The land I told you has such fascinating bits to it. The, the land he bought, the ninety-two and a half acres was part of the Henry Warnell tract. Henry Warnell was one of the defenders of the Alamo [San Antonio, Texas]. And the, the land was land that the government gave him as a reward for his service at the Alamo. My grandf- Newton Isaac purchased the land from Henry Warnell's heirs directly from, (laughter) to the heirs. I was, when I started working on, on, on the family history I was really--oh, and the, the deed to that land said that it was three miles from Austin [Texas]. I found out that three miles from Austin meant three miles from the capital which meant something interesting was on that land currently. And it was really interesting at how I learned that. I had, I had gone down to the general land office to find out a little bit more about the history of that land and one, there was someone else, when I asked, when I asked my question of the, the worker there, the, the attendant, there was a customer sitting there who overheard my conversation and he said, "Lady," (laughter), "do, do you know who Henry Warnell was?" "I don't have a clue." And then he went on to tell me. And he said, "You know, if I, my family owned any land," (laughter), "and it belonged to someone who had fought at the Alamo, I would tell everybody." I said, "Oh, okay" (laughter). But at any rate, they located the land and what was on it currently, (laughter) first of all, my own real estate office 'cause we later had a real estate business [Anderson Wormley Real Estate and Insurance Company, Austin, Texas], my, my own business, you know, over a hundred years after my great-grandfather had sold it. And it extended into what was the old airport [Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, Austin, Texas]] which is now being redeveloped. And so we recently--and, and by the way, he bought the ninety-two and a half acres but as land became available adjacent to his land, he purchased additional land to a total of a hundred fifty-six acres. And so that 156 acres extended from our office at 3724 Airport Boulevard into the airport (laughter) which was, I was really delighted to learn (laughter).$And I wasn't there very long, very long but I was the only who had had enough background, I was qualified to be a counselor and it, it was nobody else in the, in the local office [of the Texas Employment Commission; Texas Workforce Commission] that could be a counselor so I was promoted to a counselor and I did all of the testing, aptitude testing, all of it for this whole area. And the, and, and I did all the testing for the, for the labor unions. They did not permit African Americans to take any tests, nothing, nada, nothing. Hispanics could only take one thing, I only remember one thing, it might have been two but it was whatever was the most undesirable thing that you could possibly imagine. And at that time they were using for, for insulation, what is that stuff, it's, it, it just cuts your, it's, I can look, I can see it now, little pink stuff and it was, they used it in, in all of (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Fiberglass, is it fiberglass?$$Fiberglass. That was the only thing Hispanics could take. And everything else the white folks could take but they couldn't take electrical, they couldn't take plumbing, they couldn't take any of those, those tests. The--I also did the test for clerical workers. And from time to time they had courses that would help the, the clerical workers hone their skills. And the, excuse me, when a clerical worker would come in, they would, two sisters, one my color and one fair, two sisters, they would give them, the, the one my color would not get a referral and they were pretty consistent about that. And they had to teach--then I, when I started interviewing they had to teach me the system and by this time we'd had some legislation that affected all of that so you didn't just blatantly say it's, you know, it's race, it's race based. So when a new person would come in to apply for a job, if it were an African American, we had little cards like this with the form printed on it and at the bottom it had, well you first you described them, and you--kind of their demeanor, and then you have a little section that you talk about, you, you describe any comments you want, remarks, it's marked, it was remark. So if it were an African American they would always start the first sentence with courteous or anything that started with a C for colored. And if it were Hispanic they would--we used a pencil--and if it were Hispanic, you just kind of accidentally (laughter) hid a, you know, a little mark in the, in the remarks, you just kind of, as though your, your, your pencil kind of slipped. Fascinating stuff (laughter). We had, we had one man who owned a, a, a John Deere company in, in, not company what's the word? You know, in Austin [Texas], anyway a dealership in Austin. And periodically he would call for a cook (laughter) and he would say, "I want one of those big, fat black mammy types that can cook" (laughter). So I would just go and take all of his information and never comment. I said, "One of these days he's gone walk in this office and ask for me" 'cause I apparently was his favorite (laughter). One day he came in and asked for Mrs. Anderson [HistoryMaker Ada Anderson] and they brought him to my desk (laughter) and he acted as though, you know, absolutely nothing had happened and he did not use (laughter) that same language. And I was still there longer, you know, and he would call in, (laughter) he didn't use the same--he still would call for me but (laughter) he wouldn't use the same language.