By: Rebecca S. Jones
HOUSTON — Born and raised on the Northeast side of Houston is a: devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, activist, agitator, board member, former council member and so much more in the person of, Mrs. Carol Mims Galloway. Birthed into an era of withering injustice, Carol became familiar with the vices of racism and prejudice at an early age. Her mother is 99-year-old, Mrs. Geraldine Mims of whom Galloway is the primary caregiver for today. Her father is the late Mr. Richard Mims, Sr. who was a contractor and businessman that owned a service station and food market on Lyons Avenue (Mims & Sons) during the 1950’s.
Being the daughter of a business man and contractor, provided young Carol along with her brother and sister (Richard, Jr. and the late Norma Jean Mims-Watson) the opportunity to have many things that were not easily obtained to African-Americans during that dispensation. Thus Galloway reminisced, during an interview of an experience that helped her to understand the ills that were placed on African-Americans during that time; and further aided her to determine the path of which she would travel during her own life. Her father had purchased a 1949 Chevrolet, and she remembers vividly how there were no freeways during that time. As the family had gone out one particular day and were traveling down South Main her father spotted a highway patrol officer. Immediately recognizing the officer, her father instructed them all to quiet down and sit back. Just as her father had suspected the officer pulled them over. After all, a Negro during that time operating and owning his own vehicle was rarely heard of. The first words out of the officer’s mouth were, “Boy, whose car is this?” He continued, “You know you don’t have no business having a car like this.” Her father humbly responded without looking at the Caucasian officer, “Yes sir, but I work for a good ole’ White man in River Oaks.” After proceeding to show the officer his paperwork and entitlements to the vehicle; the officer allowed them to proceed with a warning.
Completely, oblivious to the jargon spoken and actions displayed by her father, young Carol always being inquisitive by nature questioned her father about what had just taken place. Her father explained to her the severity of the consequences that they would have faced, had he not reacted the way he did. That incident served as a catalyst for her. Therefore, she decided that when she got older she would not be subject to such intimidation and ill treatment. Little did she know then, that her actions, efforts and career choice would allow her the platform later in life to challenge and do something about the way African-Americans were treated and regarded in her community and environment.
Continuing, at the age of five her parents paved the way for her to receive piano lessons of which she mastered. So much so that by the age of twelve, she began to play for a church in Houston’s Fourth Ward, under the stewardship of the late Rev. Moore. Carol would ride to church every Sunday on the bus to play the piano for the church. By the age of 14, she became the musician for the Youth Choir at her church Olivet Baptist Church where Pastor N.T. Burks, Sr. was the overseer. She was a musician there for 10 years.
As time went on Carol grew in age and grace. As a result, of growing up on Hardy Street, she was zoned to attend Phillis Wheatley High School during the mid 1950’s. Being a student at Phillis Wheatley, Carol tested out of school and received her GED. She went on to attend San Jacinto Junior College, where she majored in Accounting. During the same time, she married her ‘high school sweetheart’, Albertus Galloway in 1957. To their union were three children born. She stated that after the Civil Rights Bill was passed, she took her children to Woolworth. She spoke of the nasty looks and horrible treatment that they received and how they had to wait an excessive amount of time just to be served. But she just wanted her children to experience the privilege that she was not afforded during her childhood. As time went on, Mrs. Carol Mims Galloway taught piano lessons in her home during the 1960’s.
As the years continued to fade away, Carol would commence to instigating and taking part in many boycotts at an attempt to detest the unfair and inhumane treatment bestowed upon Blacks. She detested the thought that even though the U.S. Constitution had denounced and declared that slavery was unconstitutional; Blacks were still looked down on as a notch above slaves, in many instances. “We did not have any rights, we had to drink at the ‘colored fountains’, could not look Whites in the eye, could not used the same restrooms as them, we were just treated like animals back then”, stated Galloway. She continued, “I can remember when I was on my way to San Antonio one time and how my mother packed me a lunch; because when the bus stopped I was not allowed to get off with the Anglos to eat.”
Being made aware of the movements and actions going on around the country by other Blacks who had begun to demand equality, Galloway decided that she wanted to become a part of the ‘Labor Movement’. Not long afterwards she became acquainted with A. Phillip Randolph, who was a leader in the African-American civil-rights movement, the American labor movement and socialist political parties. She was taught through him that, “we have to form a chain”. She withdrew a motto from his teaching, “Take one and teach one”. Thus, she made it a point that as she began to climb the ladder in her professional career, to teach and mentor young people.
In 1964, after applying to several companies, she was hired by Texas Instruments. Her employment yielded her the opportunity to be the third Black person hired within Texas Instruments. She started her career there working in the assembly line. There she would assemble pc boards. Being equipped with the skill of learning how to play the piano at an early age, she was quick with her fingers. She described how she and her co-workers were given a certain amount of time to complete each project. While, her set time to assemble her boards averaged about 40 hours, Galloway would complete her project in 25 hours or less. During her probationary period she recalled sitting next to an older White prejudice woman who was working on the same project as her. Noticing that Galloway was moving really quick with her assignment and had ultimately finished hers relatively fast, the woman began to criticize her. The older woman scolded Galloway for moving so quickly and told her that when it came time for inspection of the project that Galloway’s would probably be sent back for error. However, Galloway continued to work on her projects and completing them in record time. Much to her chagrin, her boards were never sent back to her. After, showing exceptional skills and talent in that capacity the Vice President of the Houston location for Texas Instruments called her to his office. He explained to Galloway that she had saved the company millions of dollars by her methods of assembling the pc boards. Therefore, he offered to promote her. As luck would have it, she performed the same in that department as she had in the assembly division. Once again the Vice President called upon her again to congratulate her on a job well done and promoted her to work strictly with the engineers on the different prototypes to set the time required to complete projects. Galloway excelled in every capacity of the company that she was placed in. After a while, noticing the talents and ability that she possessed Texas Instruments paid for her to attend the University of Houston, to obtain an Engineering degree. She went there for two years.
Being all too acquainted with how Blacks were treated inhumanely and regarded as animals during her era, Galloway reverted back to the incident she experienced with her father decades earlier. Accordingly, her presence, wit and adorable personality at the company even served to change the way that one extremely White racist executive thought and felt about Blacks. She earned much respect during her employment at the company. Though Galloway was successful in her career at Texas Instruments, her heart still longed for the co-workers that she knew working in other parts of the company that were still being treated poorly. So she sought to organize a union there. She found out the rights of laborers and spearheaded the entire cause. Simultaneously, 120 Hispanic-Americans were hired into the company from Rosenberg right before the election was to take place, of which outnumbered the African-Americans at that time. Ultimately, the labor was not able to get organized, but Galloway was persistent and always voiced her concerns about the treatment of her co-workers. During her tenure at Texas Instruments, she went as far as any non-degree professional could go; an outstanding accomplishment for anyone but especially an African-American woman during that era.
After working at Texas Instruments for some years, Galloway was hired for Southwestern Bell as a Service Representative in 1973. At that time, there were only four Blacks in that department. Southwestern Bell unlike Texas Instruments did have a union, which she joined and ended up becoming a union steward. She quickly advanced within the company and after over eight years of service she took a union leave to work for the AFL-CIO and the Houston Federation of Teachers. Eventually, she retired from Southwestern Bell after thirty years. She contributed a great deal to the entities where she employed and various measures that she implemented are still at work today in those companies.
Over the years, she sought out to become more active in the field of education. In 1991, she was elected and served two terms as an HISD board member. Her commitment to education includes roles as PTA president, a member of the Houston Area Urban League Education Committee and member of the Texas Education Agency Advisory Committee for Technology. She later went on to hold the position of president for the NAACP Houston Branch and has served on the Communities in Schools board and Northeast YMCA board. Additionally, Former Mayor Kathy Whitmire appointed her as the affirmative-action commissioner and Kashmere Gardens redevelopment commissioner for the City of Houston. She was later appointed by U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee to the National Commission for African-American Education as the representative for the 18th Congressional District.
Galloway’s home is decorated with an array of awards, certificates, photographs, trophies, accolades and acknowledgments presented by various esteemed individuals and political figures from all over the nation. A few of her awards and honors include: UNCF Distinguished Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Leadership Award, National NAACP Benjamin Hook Keeper of the Flame Award and Top Lady of the Year 1995. Among additional accomplishments is the fact that she is the first African-American woman to represent District II. In 1999, she was also the first African-American woman to represent District B on the Houston City Council, where she served three terms.
During her administration as a City Council Member of District B, Galloway made it of utmost necessity to continue on with the projects that Council Member Ernest McGowen, Sr., initiated during his administration. As such a few of the improvements that were made in her district were: water line replacements and storm sewer construction; street reconstructions and street surface overlays; quality of life improvements like neighborhood clean-ups; dangerous building demolitions; weeded lot abatements, community forums; park renovations and multi-service center renovations, just to name a few. Along with her continued commitment to the district of which she was elected, the City of Houston Finance and Administration bears record that, “more money has been allocated to District B than to any other district every year that Council Member Galloway held office.” As a community activist and former council member, Galloway speaks very highly of Ernest McGowen, Sr. and how she has always supported and respected him. So much so that she even revealed of how instrumental she was in having a school named after him, which is located at 6820 Homestead Rd., 77028
Moving forward, in December of 2007 she was elected to the Board of Education for her third non-consecutive term. Over the course of the next three years, she was chosen by her colleagues to serve as secretary. After dedicating twenty years of service in the field of education, Galloway retired as an HISD board trustee in December of 2011.
Throughout the years, Mrs. Carol Mims Galloway has had her hands in a variety of boards, unions, movements and community groups. To that regard, she has been a member of numerous organizations: including the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.; National Women of Achievement; Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc.; National Council of Negro Women; American Leadership Forum-Class X; Harris County Black Democrats; Harris County Black Caucus; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Northeast Concerned Citizen League and the Acres Homes Chamber for Business and Economic Development, to state the least. She is a faithful member of Kashmere Gardens Baptist Church under the leadership of, Pastor Edward L. Durant, Jr..
Mrs. Carol Mims Galloway is married to, Mr. Albertus Galloway, Sr., and they have shared a union which totals a sum of 56 years and counting. Together they have one son, Albertus, Jr.; two daughters, Felicia Galloway-Hall and Marcia Galloway-Bazile; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one on the way.
African-American News & Issues salutes Mrs. Carol Mims Galloway and acknowledges her for the tireless work and involvement that she has rendered in the Black community; at an attempt to change and improve the quality of life and availability of resources for members within her community and onward.
Photo Credit: Isiah Carey