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Velma Jeter

July 15, 1903 - Jan. 23, 1998                    Port Arthur, TX

     Velma Marjorie Dreyfus Jeter, educator and civic leader spent her life promoting and fighting for the rights of all people. A nationally renowned civil rights activist, she became known as the Rosa Parks of Texas. Her father, Jules Dreyfus, was a politician and held the post of Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, of the Louisiana Legislature, until his death. She was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. At the age of 12, her family moved to Port Arthur, TX and she graduated from Lincoln High School in 1920 as Valedictorian of the class.


     In 1922 she began her career as a teacher in Port Arthur. Jeter received a B.A. from Prairie View A & M University in 1932 and an M.A. from Texas Southern University in 1952 in addition to completing post graduate work at several universities. Jeter's career as an educator lasted for 45 years where she taught English and Social Studies at both Port Arthur and Orange. She was a Life Member of the National Education Association.


     A tireless civic leader, Jeter served on the Council of Aging under Governor Mark White, where he named her "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for her dedication to civic causes. Honored numerous times by the NAACP, she received the Civil Rights Award for her service from 1950 to 1987. Other honors include Black Texan of Distinction in 1970, Sojourner Truth Award, Women of Courage Award, Governor's Award for Public Service, induction to the Black Women's Hall of Fame in 1986, and Texas Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1996. Even after her death in 1998, Mrs. Jeter's impact on our community continues through the efforts of the Velma Jeter Foundation, which awards scholarships to local students.

Tex Ritter Portrait
Tex Ritter Portrait
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