Shelby Co. swears in first black elected official

SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

SHELBY COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Shelby County's first court was back in 1837 with a judge nicknamed Three-Legged Willie. Not until Jan. 3, 2011, when Fred Walker became constable has there been a minority elected official. Walker learned along the way about his place in history. He isn't too terribly impressed.

"Well, that was not the intention of, you know, making history, but history kinda just makes itself in day-to-day life," he said.

According to the latest census figures, 18 percent of the county's population is black. The 80-percent white population explains a lot about the status of black elected leaders.

None of that really interests Walker, who ran upon the urging of his constituents. Nor does race concern his close-working companion, Tenaha City Marshal Tom Reader.

"Fred and I see no color and hopefully most everybody else will be the same way," Reader said. "To advertise that you're either black or white or Hispanic really has no place in law enforcement."

Yet race is very much an issue hanging over the small town of Tenaha. A lawsuit stemming from allegations of racial profiling has yet to go away. Walker, a witness in that suit, says highway 59 stops "would not be a major primary duty of my department."

The two law enforcement officers say they only want to answer calls, prevent crime and serve their public.

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