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Norris Community Club

Page history last edited by shannon.carter@... 12 years, 10 months ago

Norris Community Club, established 1973  

STORYBOARD:  Norris Community Club.docx 

--by Shannon Carter, PhD

Associate Professor of English

Texas A&M-Commerce


Summary: Remix of existing archival footage featuring key challenges and accomplishments in in the first few years of Norris Community Club's activist efforts for social justice, especially with respect to Ivory Moore's role as a founding member and liaison to city and university. 


Key Players; Opal Panel, Billy Reed, and Ivory Moore (Commerce, Texas); Allen Hallmark (now in Oregon), Dr. Larry Matthis (now in Colorado), and MacArthur Evans (now in Tyler, Texas)--all three former students and very active in NCC during period featured in documentary. Additional players mentioned in storyboard and likely to contribute to understanding of Ivory Moore and his impact through NCC and elsewhere across town. 



Above (left to right) Norris Community Club (circa 1976), see Commerce Public Library for details; membership card, Norris Community Club (available in the Northeast Texas Digital Collections); MacArthur Evans, former student activist (now in Tyler, Texas), yearbook photo; Larry Matthis (now Dr. Matthis), yearbook photo (middle), former student activist (now in Colorado).  


Overview: NCC was established in 1973 by Commerce citizens in partnership with university students to provide a direct line of communication between Commerce's African American citizens and city and university officials. At the time of the group’s formation, the needs of the Norris Community were many. Commerce had integrated only a few years before (1964), and the Jim Crow laws and customs that limited city services and support for local minority populations continued to choke progress and oppress its citizens residing in an area of town generally referred to as “the hole”: unpaved streets, inadequate street lamps, sewage systems either inadequate or non-existent. The list continues. In a few short years, however, the Norris Community streets were well lit and newly paved, sewage systems had been vastly improved, and Ivory Moore, a founding member of Norris Community Club and leader on campus and in the community, had been elected Commerce’s first African American mayor. He would go on to serve many terms on the Commerce City Council and bring in millions of dollars in grant monies to improve the infrastructure in Norris Community and opportunities for minorities and first-generation students by establishing programs like Upward Bound, Trio Services, and other support. Conditions and opportunities for minorities across the city continued to improve as a result of this productive partnership, which included grant writing, press releases, promotional materials, consciousness raising events, letter writing campaigns, and dozens of other local rhetorical actions to promote change. The proposed remix brings together founding members from NCC, both former students and long-time residents, to discuss group’s origins, goals, and key accomplishments. 


Allan Hallmark, Dr. Larry Mathis, and McArthur Evans joined the Norris Community Club as university students. Hallmark came to Commerce in 1973 to join the graduate program in Journalism after Vietnam and becoming heavily involved in anti-war demonstrations elsewhere. Evans and Mathis arrived in Commerce in the early 1970s as well—both majored in Criminal Justice.  A few short years later, these former students left Commerce to take positions in other parts of the country (Evans in Tyler, Texas; Mathis in Colorado; Hallmark in Oregon).


Opal Pannell and Billy Reed long-time Commerce citizens and residents of the Norris Community. With Ivory Moore, Mac Evans, Larry Mathis, they established NCC in 1973. (see  blackhistory )

Read and view more about Moore here and Ivory Moore
Watch excerpts from a longer oral history here.
View additional recordings with Moore here


Ivory Moore, first African American administrator at Texas A&M-Commerce (then East Texas State University). Arrived in 1972 to begin newly formed position as Director of Minority Affairs. A founding member of Norris Community Club, former Harlem Globe Trotter and high school principal, Moore quickly began making significant changes to Commerce and the University: established Upward Bound, Trio Programs, and other support for minority and first generation students. Became a founding member of Norris Community Club and used his extensive skill as writer to bring in millions of dollars of grants to support local students and citizens–especially with respect to City’s injustices regarding the Norris Community. Unpaved streets, inadequate plumbing and phone services, garbage collection, and police He served on the City Council for many years and as Commerce’s first African American Mayor. 


Video would do well to feature voices from former students and community members associated with Norris Community Club on his impact. Who is Ivory moore? What has he done for the campus and the community? 


Existing materials:


From the 1970s (newspaper clippings, photographs, documents like the NCC Newsletter, minutes from meetings, business cards)

More recently, 

     Norris Community Club reunion, including panel of NCC members joined together on stage for the first time in more than 35 years, a gathering of same and scholars and locals, including mayor and former president of university Keith McFarland, to give Ivory Moore the 2011 Writing Democracy Award. See much excellent footage here.  



Please see also the initial documentary about the Norris Community at above link.



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