Posted on October 25, 2011 at 6:29 PM
Updated yesterday at 6:42 PM
AUSTIN -- They were historic hires in a time
of racial segregation. Now the men who helped
break the color barrier inside one city
department are being remembered with a special
In 1952 Willie Ray Davis, Roy Greene, and
Nathaniel Kindred made history. They were
the first African-Americans hired by the
Austin Fire Department. The three men were
also the first black firefighters in the
state of Texas.
Marvin Douglas was the fourth
African-American hired by the fire
“I was hired April 16th 1953,” Douglas said.
Now 85 years old, Douglas says breaking the
color barrier wasn't easy for his three
“Captain Davis, Kindred, Greene -- they were
great people,” Douglas said. “We had
separate face basins, separate commodes,
temporarily, but these guys fought the deal
and they changed that situation.”
Dusty reminders of the struggles and
accomplishments of Austin's first black fire
fighters sit inside Austin's Fire Museum.
It's a look back at a tumultuous time of
On Saturday Davis, Greene, and Kindred will
be remembered for their roles in civil
rights history with a
their honor. The two-foot bronze structure
will feature each firefighter's name, their
picture, and their biography. For now, the
statue is being kept under wraps.
The number of minorities on the force have
obviously gone up since the first three were
hired. Right now the Austin Fire Department
has 908 firefighters; 761 are white, 139 are
Hispanic, 47 are African-American, nine are
Asian, and four are American Indian.
In the latest cadet class of 41 people,
three are African-American. In the Sr. Cadet
class, there are two African-Americans.
“There's always room for improvement," said
Bobby Johns, President of Austin’s
African-American Firefighters Association.
"We're still under our demographic of the
Johns says things have definitely changed
for the better since Greene, Davis, and
Kindred were first hired almost 60 years
“There's more of an atmosphere of
understanding between the races, I believe,"
Johns said. “And all this makes for a better
atmosphere within the fire department.”
The sculpture honoring the three men cost
about $55,000 and was funded by the city's
Art In Public Places program. It will be
unveiled Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Carver
Museum in East Austin. The public is invited
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