Our Voices tells the stories of the local Civil Rights movement through the eyes of those who made an impact


Charles Warford

Charles Warford is a prominent businessman and active community leader in Amarillo. He is one of the founders of Amarillo’s United Citizens Forum and has served as its president. He is co-owner of the Warford Walker Mortuary and Funeral Home.

Iris Lawrence

Iris Sanders Lawrence is a leader in Amarillo’s African American community. She is credited with breaking down color barriers in Amarillo by being the first black woman to work the floor at an Amarillo department store, the first black supervisor over the cutting room at Levi Strauss, one of the first black women to work for the Texas State Comptroller’s office and the first black woman to serve on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. She was elected Potter County Commissioner in 1998 and served for eight years.

Helen Neal

Helen Neal was the first African American woman to graduate from West Texas State University in 1962. She taught at North Heights and Humphrey’s Highland Elementary Schools for 20 years. After her retirement in 1983, she mentored at the North Branch YMCA and established the Lift Every Voice concerts with the Amarillo Opera which celebrated talent in the African American community. In addition, Helen became an active volunteer at the Black Historical Cultural Center.

Helen was married to Nathaniel J. Neal who was a long-time teacher and coach in Amarillo. “Nat” Neal began teaching and coaching at Carver High School in 1955 and in 1959 became the assistant principal there. In 1968, Nat began teaching at Amarillo College and West Texas State University. He was dean of the vocational arts and allied health departments at Amarillo College from 1974 to 1983 and continued teaching at both institutions of higher education until 1992.

Jewelle Allen

Jewelle Allen taught school for 17 years at Amarillo’s Carver High and another 17 years at Palo Duro High  School in Amarillo. She is a leader in the local African American community.


Claudia Stuart

Claudia Stuart is the first African American female faculty member at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. She teaches in the sociology and criminal justice fields. She is a published author, artist and poet. Claudia is also a community activist, while regional director for the Texans War on Drugs, she worked with law enforcement agencies, churches and schools initiating prevention efforts across the region.

Pearlene Martin

Pearlene Martin has lived in Amarillo for more than 50 years. She is an educator, retired from the Amarillo Independent School District. In addition to being the first woman to serve as President of the Amarillo chapter of the NAACP, she is also a member of Jenkins Chapel Baptist Church, the YMCA, Senior Citizens and Black Historical Cultural Center. Mrs. Martin is a member of the Order of Calanthe, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Delta Kappa Gamma Society and Church Women United. She married Grover Martin on November 28, 1957.


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