OVERTON, SR., VOLMA ROBERT (1924 ~ 2005). Volma Robert Overton, Sr. was born on September 26, 1924, to Nicholas and Eliza Overton of Travis County. He attended public schools in the Maha Community and then at L.C. Anderson High School where he graduated in 1942.
Six months after graduation, Mr. Overton was drafted into the military. He joined the United States Marine Corps and served two years in the Pacific Theatre. He returned home and met his future wife, Warneta Hill in
February of 1946, at Huston-Tillotson College. They were married two months later in April of 1946, and eventually had four children.
Mr. Overton was honorably discharged from the Marines but continued to serve his country for twenty-eight years as a United States Army Reservist. He was honorably discharged at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Mr. Overton attended Huston-Tillotson College from 1947 to 1950 and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry. Two years later, in 1952, Mr. Overton began his career with the Post Office and in 1979, was appointed Postmaster at Cedar Creek, Texas. He served there until his retirement in 1985.
While attending to his duties at the postoffice, Mr. Overton continued to face the central core issues of segregation and discrimination. Martin Luther King, Jr. was making his speeches and marches during this time and Mr. Overton decided to participate.
In 1963, Mr. Overton became president of the Austin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that same year he attended the March on Washington. Two years later, in 1965, he marched alongside Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma to Montgomery March.
During Mr. Overton's twenty year tenure as president of the NAACP, he organized picketed marches on segregated businesses, integrated Bastrop State Park, organized a credit union to serve East Austin, led a campaign to institute single member districts for Austin City Council Elections, and served on the newly created Commission on Human Rights, which developed from his efforts.
Mr. Overton was an ardent advocate for quality education for all students. He was most vocal on the issues surrounding public schools. In 1971, he merged his two passions of ending discrimination and public schools and fought for desegregation. He became meticulously involved in the landmark federal lawsuit to end segregation in AISD. With victory in hand, Mr. Overton continued to champion the cause for AISD by lobbying for funding, quality teaching materials and parental involvement. He mentored, tutored, and prepared young students for college -- believing education was the key to freedom.
Because of Mr. Overton's outstanding efforts in the cause for Human Rights, the NAACP bestowed upon Mr. Overton the Arthur B. DeWitty Award in 1967. And, because of his ardent efforts to further the cause of education and civil rights in Austin, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Library and Museum conferred upon Mr. Overton the LBJ Award for Leadership in Civil Rights on March 25, 2004. In addition to his awards, the book Volma -- My Journey: One Man's Impact on the Civil Rights Movement in Austin, Texas by Carolyn Jones, was published to recognize and chronicle Mr. Overton's achievements and dedication to the causes of equality and education.
In addition to his many services to his country and community, Mr. Overton served Christ as a deacon and a Christian Lay Leader at the First Baptist Church in Austin. He continually supported missions and insured the church's involvement in the social ministries of the entire Austin community.
Mr. Overton passed away October 31, 2005, at the age of 81, and was interred with military honors five days later at the Texas State Cemetery.
Sources: Austin American Statesman via www.legacy.com; letter to the Governor's Office