LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The lives of young African American women across East and Deep East Texas were influenced by a woman who celebrated her 100th birthday in Lufkin today.
Emma Williams Bonner is happy to turn 100 years old.
"I enjoy being this age," Emma Williams Bonner, birthday girl said. "There are some things I can't do that I used to."
Bonner was the third of ten children born and raised in Mt. Enterprise by sharecropper parents who valued education. She and her two sisters cleaned houses to attend and graduate from Tyler's Texas College.
"She and her sister went to college with two dresses each," Guessippina Bonner, Bonner's daughter said. "Those dresses were homemade."
While in school Bonner played basketball and became a successful high school women's basketball coach. She even coached her sister.
The perseverance impresses filmmaker, and Bonner's granddaughter, Nerissa Scott.
"We talked about perhaps documenting her basketball career and the fact that she was one of the first African American women in this state to take her girls all the way to the national championship," Scott said. "At a time, colored girls weren't able to actually do that, and she took them there."
After integration Bonner wasn't rehired as a coach, so she taught math at schools across Deep East Texas.
After several decades of teaching, Bonner retired from the classroom in Lufkin. She lives there today surrounded by family and friends.
"It's a lot different being 20 than it is being 100," Scott said.
"You're right, Bonner said. "You're so right there."
Bonner celebrated her birthday at Castle Pines retirement home in Lufkin. As a gift today, she was presented with a key to the city of Lufkin.