The Honorable Reby Cary, whose legacy as an educator and civil rights champion includes being a founder of Texas Association for Blacks in Higher Education (TABPHE), along with the late Erma Johnson Hadley and the late Ivory Moore. Cary will be honored posthumously on Saturday, Aug. 14, at a ceremony marking the opening of Fort Worth’s Reby Cary Youth Library.
Cary, who died on December 17, 2018, was a tireless voice for civil rights who carried his message as a public school teacher, college and university faculty member, school board member and member of the Texas House of Representatives.
A graduate of I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Prairie View A&M University. Cary was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for 70 years.
After college, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, becoming of the first African American in Fort Worth to be allowed in the ranks of apprentice seaman. He later became a radioman second class and was assigned to the USS Cambria, AA036 (Amphibious Personnel Attack).
His career in education began at Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School where he was a counselor and taught history and government from 1952 to 1967.
Cary, the first African American faculty member at Tarrant County College, was a member of the original TCC South faculty in 1967. He taught history until moving to the University of Texas at Arlington in 1969 as that institution’s first Black faculty member. In addition to his classroom duties, he was associate dean of student life. He was instrumental in the establishment of UTA’s Minority Student Center in 1972 and the dropping of the Rebel mascot in 1974.
That year also saw him move into politics, winning a spot on the previously all-white Fort Worth Board of Education. After four years in that role, he moved on to the Texas House of Representatives, serving from 1978 to 1984.
The Reby Cary Youth Library is located at 3851 E. Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas.
(Source: news.tccd.edu, Photo courtesy of Tarrant County College)