As the old Prince song says, “Let’s Work,” which just happens to be the topic of Thursday’s installment of the ongoing Legacy of East Cleburne series.
The free program begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Booker T. Washington Community and Recreation Center, 100 Mansfield Road.
The theme of Thursday’s installment, the fifth in the series, is “Work and Community Leadership.”
Keynote speakers include Keosha D. Baker, fourth generation owner of Baker Funeral Home, which was founded by James Nathan Baker Sr. in the 1920s. James Baker, though born in Fort Worth, worked as a Pullman porter in Cleburne, Cleburne Councilman John Warren said.
“He encouraged and inspired black people to start their own businesses,” Warren said. “And he quit his job with the railroad and started the Baker Funeral Home in, I think it was about 1927, at 602 Atlantic Street in Cleburne. Then somewhere along the way the funeral home moved to Fort Worth.”
Cleburne resident Frances Fuller Hafford will also serve as keynote speaker.
Hafford works as a family counselor at Crosier-Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home and previously worked as payroll clerk for Cleburne ISD. Among other recognitions, Hafford was named the Times-Review’s woman of the year in 2006 and the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce’s citizen of the year in 2008.
Several who contributed to East Cleburne’s legacy of work and community contribution will be highlighted as well including former Cleburne resident Erin Matthews who, as a school teacher, later moved to Gary, Indiana where her students included a young Michael Jackson, and former Cleburne resident Charles Fuller, the first African-American hired by Cleburne’s Santa Fe shops.
Event organizer the Rev. Bill Wright will deliver a historic overview of discriminatory hiring practices of black workers while co-organizer the Rev. Johnie Dollarhide will discuss historic unequal wealth accumulation opportunities for black workers.
Refreshments will be provided by Crosier-Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home.
Two more installments are planned for the series. The March 12 edition will focus on religion and the April 2 on military. Earlier installments covered the topics of athletics, education, entertainment and day-to-day life in East Cleburne.
Each installment is being taped and will be available online and through Hill College. The Layland Museum and Cleburne ISD are also partnering on the project.
“My purpose through this series is that I have a passion for East Cleburne having spent my life there,” Warren said. “I’ve heard comments, some good, some bad. But we hope to apprise citizens of the kind of people who live and lived in East Cleburne and to know the many good things East Cleburne and its people have contributed to Cleburne and the county. We also want to see the history of East Cleburne, which has often been overlooked, enshrined into the overall history of Cleburne.”
“Our main purpose os to show that East Cleburne is not a separate country or a city by itself, but rather that it’s part of Cleburne,” Dollarhide said. “Those who excelled excelled not only for East Cleburne but for all of Cleburne.”
Both said they hope the series brings to light East Cleburne history either forgotten or never told and fosters dialogue among residents from all corners of Cleburne.