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Wilhelmina Delco is a trailblazing African American women who forever changed the political course of central Texas. She would go on to become the first African American to be an elected official in Travis County.
Born in Chicago, Wilhelmina moved to Austin in 1952 with her husband and four children. It didn't take long for Delco to become active in the Parent Teacher Association of her children’s school, and soon she would run for Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees. Three days after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, this victory made Delco the first African American elected to public office in Austin, Texas. Emboldened by her success on the School Board, Delco set her sights on statewide policy-making and successfully ran for the Texas House of Representatives. This triumph gave her another historic first, that of being the first African American elected official elected at-large in Travis County.
Wilhelmina Delco would go on to serve ten uncommonly influential terms in the Texas Legislature. Amongst her many legislative achievements, Delco was also a founding member of the Austin Community College Board. She would also become the first woman and the second African American to hold the second highest position in the Texas House of Representatives.
Delco retired from the Texas Legislature in 1995, though she continues to be active force in education and a voice for social justice in the community. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees at Houston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin with her work through the Community College Leadership Program. She continues to be a proud Austin resident with her husband Dr. Exalton A. Delco, Jr. She is a mother of four, a grandmother of nine, and an inspiration to all.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Amarta2 via Flickr