James Lee Dickey: An Analysis of One African-American's Leadership in Jim Crow Texas

Ahead of His Time

On January 23, 1953, things shifted in Taylor and perhaps caused a ripple in the rest of the country. The white community finally recognized the unique courage that the humble entreaties Dr. Dickey made throughout his career in Taylor. The Taylor chapter of Rotary International awarded Dr. James Lee Dickey its “Citizen of the Year” Award for 1952. Rotarians were not alone in choosing the recipient of the accolade, but rather, every civic and religious organization was able to make a nomination. The recommendation form required details justifying the candidate’s nomination and the Rotary committee reviewed all applicants. This year, the third year the award was granted, the southern community of Taylor selected an African American as its top citizen in the midst of Jim Crowism. This is was a feat both for Taylor and for Dr. Dickey! The announcement made national news. Dr. Dickey appeared on two television programs and in October the Saturday Evening Post printed a feature article about his accomplishments. The New York Times also interviewed and wrote a story though it was not published. Amazingly, a black man was spotlighted because of his goodness in a world in which black men were usually cited for his impurity. Characteristically, Dr. Dickey brushed off his celebrity and tried to focus the spotlight on others.

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