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The Honorable Royce West

Royce West has received numerous accolades as a politician in addition to his responsibilities as managing partner of a law firm. He was born on September 26, 1952 in Annapolis, Maryland. West attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he received his B.A. and his M.A. degrees in Sociology. While an undergraduate, West became the first African American to serve as president of the Student Congress, foreshadowing later events. He went on to receive his J.D. degree from the University of Houston in 1979 and worked in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office before joining the Dallas County District Attorney’s office where he became Texas’ first African American chief felony prosecutor. Following his time there, in 1994, West became a senior partner at the Dallas law firm Robinson, West, and Gooden.

Since 1993, West has represented Dallas County (District 23) in the Texas Senate. He won the Democratic primary the previous year against Jerald Larry and Jesse Oliver with over 57 percent of the votes. He has served on Senate committees including Education, Finance, Health and Human Services, and Criminal Justice; has served as chair of committees on Jurisprudence and Higher Education, and is the current Chair of Intergovernmental Relations. He has also been appointed to the Education Commission of the States in 2005, the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee of the Council of State Governments in 2009, and the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council also in 2009. In 1994, West created the “One Community-One Child Program” to increase parental involvement in students’ academic careers. West furthered his law career by becoming managing partner of West & Associates, now a law firm of 11 attorneys in 1994. He was sworn in as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in 2006 and during that period, served as Governor for a Day.

West has received Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Paul Quinn College and Huston-Tillotson College in 1997 and 2000, respectively. In 2001, his alma mater, the University of Texas, recognized him with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Texas Monthly Magazine named him of the “Ten Best Legislators in Texas” in 1999 and one of the “25 Most Powerful People in Texas Politics” in 2005. That same year, the Associated Press called him one of the “key players of the 2005 Legislature” in their “Movers and Shakers” list.

Royce West was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 12, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.020

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/11/2010

Last Name

West

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Walter S. Mills-Parole Elementary School

University of Texas at Arlington

University of Houston

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Wilmer Hutchins High School

First Name

Royce

Birth City, State, Country

Annapolis

HM ID

WES06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

If It Is Going To Be, It Is Up To Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

9/26/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Lawyer and state senator The Honorable Royce West (1952 - ) was Texas’ first African American chief felony prosecutor, and served as State Senator of the Texas twenty-third district.

Employment

7-11

General Motors Company

Harris County District Attorney's Office

Dallas County District Attorney's Office

West and Associates, LLP

Royce West and Associates

Robinson, West and Gooden, PC,

Favorite Color

Gold, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Royce West's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Royce West lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Royce West describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Royce West describes his relationship with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Royce West describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his paternal grandparents' legacy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Royce West lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Royce West describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Royce West describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Royce West remembers Parole Elementary School in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Royce West describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his community in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Royce West describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - The Honorable Royce West remembers moving to Augsburg, Germany

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - The Honorable Royce West describes his experiences in Germany

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his schooling in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Royce West recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Royce West remembers moving to Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Royce West recalls Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Royce West describes his community in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Royce West recalls Pearl C. Anderson Junior High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his academic interests

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his aspirations to become a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Royce West describes his reading habits

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Royce West recalls the influence of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Royce West remembers Wilmer-Hutchins High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Royce West remembers Bishop College in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Royce West remembers the Highland Hills area of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his experiences of discrimination at Wilmer-Hutchins High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his mentors at Wilmer-Hutchins High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Royce West remembers applying for college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Royce West describes his experiences at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Royce West recalls playing football at the University of Texas at Arlington

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his election as student body president

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his left handedness

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his part time employment at the General Motors Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his influential professors

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his graduate studies in sociology

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Royce West remembers the University of Houston Law Center in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Royce West remembers the bar examination

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Royce West remembers passing the bar examination

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Royce West remembers working with Tom Joyner

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Royce West recalls joining a motion to dismiss a racist jury, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Royce West recalls joining a motion to dismiss a racist jury, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his experiences of discrimination as the chief felony prosecutor of Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Royce West remembers trying a murder case against a black minister

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his private law practice

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Royce West recalls the establishment of his law firm

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Royce West shares his advice to young lawyers

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Royce West talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his campaign for district attorney

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Royce West remembers his election to the Texas Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his achievements as a state senator

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - The Honorable Royce West describes his juvenile justice initiatives

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - The Honorable Royce West describes his elderly care initiatives

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Royce West reflects upon the demographic changes in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Royce West talks about the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Royce West describes the One Community-One Child program

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Royce West recalls his chairmanship of the Senate Interim Committee on Gangs and Juvenile Justice

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Royce West remembers Texas Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Royce West talks about University of North Texas at Dallas

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Royce West describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Royce West reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Royce West shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$12

DATitle
The Honorable Royce West talks about his aspirations to become a lawyer
The Honorable Royce West remembers his election to the Texas Senate
Transcript
What did you think that you would become at that time, had you given it any thought?$$Very good question. I'm gonna tell you about a story. Mr. Edwards, Tommy Edwards [ph.] it's, it's amazing how I can now recall all of this. Mr. Tommy Edwards was the metal shop teacher, now I think we're about the eighth grade, at that time, seventh eighth grade. Someone had stolen someone's apple, so he shut down the metal shop class. And basically said, "Denise [Denise Gines], I'm gonna teach you all something about law and order," something like that. But, what he did, he decided to have a jury trial, 'cause this guy who's apple had been stolen was accusing someone else. And so, what he did he said, "I'm gonna put you guys over here as a jury. I'm a put you over here as the defendant. Royce [HistoryMaker Royce West] you will defend him, okay." And then had another guy who was presenting the evidence. We never resolved the issue, but he planted a seed. And mind you I told that in elementary school [Parole Elementary School; Walter S. Mills Parole Elementary School, Annapolis, Maryland] my favorite character was Perry Mason. So, in junior high school [Pearl C. Anderson Junior High School, Dallas, Texas] Mr. Edwards further, I guess you could say, fertilized that seed in my mind. And, and it was just, it was just the thought in the back, in the recesses of my mind. I wanted to be a football player, okay. That's what I wanted to be. But, it was at that time that he, he began to fertilize that seed. And even though I still wanted to be a football player, it was there. In the back, in the recesses of my mind.$When's the next time you decide that you want to be in public office?$$Well, interesting enough I, I'm in--my wife [Carol Richard West] is from New Orleans [Louisiana], she talk like dat, you talk like you know, people down there talk like dat. And I'm, I'm standing--[HistoryMaker] Eddie Bernice Johnson, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, was the senator in this district before me becoming the senator. And she's now in [U.S.] Congress. Be, before I became a senator, excuse me. And you know, she's talking about, you know, drawing a congressional seat and running for Congress. And so, I'm thinking about the possibility of running for the state senate [Texas Senate]. And the thought actually crystallized in my mind when I was standing on banquette--the porch of my in-laws' house in New Orleans. And look across the street and there's a sign on a tree and it says, "Marc Morial [HistoryMaker Marc H. Morial] for state senate." Marc at that time was the mayor of New Orleans, I said, "Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do." Because that will help me to continue what at that time was kind of a mission for me, of, of public service. As it relates to doing some things in the community. So, I decided to run and I ran against two great guys, one by the name of Jerald Larry [Jerald H. Larry], who was a sitting state representative. And Mr. Jesse Oliver, who was a former judge and also a state representative. We did not have a contentious election, I was able to win on the first ballot and in part I won on the first ballot because I had previously ran for district attorney. And had a lot of name identification as a result of that. I became state senator and was sworn into office as state senator in January of 1993.$$And what district was this?$$District 23 [Texas Senate District 23], which is out of Dallas, Texas.$$And you won with 50 percent of the vote?$$I think I had about 57 percent.$$Okay. So, what was your platform?$$My platform then as it is now, is to deal with issuing concerning juveniles, elderly, education and economic development.