House Representative

Giddings, Helen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 09/28/2013

Giddings Remembers Civil Rights Activist and Austin Legend Mrs. Willie Mae Kirk

Representative Helen Giddings (Dallas) reflected on her over 20 year friendship with Mrs. Willie Mae Kirk, an Austin legend, educator, and civil rights activist, who recently passed on September 28, 2013, at the age of 92. Representative Giddings has fond memories of her dear friend, and how Mrs. Kirk inspired her throughout her career as a Texas State Representative.

Representative Giddings remarked and praised Mrs. Kirk's political accomplishments in education reform and bringing civil rights in Texas to the mainstream during her lifetime. Mrs. Kirk worked hard and stood firm in her belief in civil rights, equality, and humanitarian efforts. While she was a well-known public figure for over 50 years in Austin, Representative Giddings remembers her most fondly during one of her first terms as a Texas State Representative, "I met her for the first time in 1992, after my election to the Texas House. She offered her help in every way she could. She even recommended staff, some of whom I hired." Representative Giddings also shared a memory of Mrs. Kirk's generosity, " (she) offered to let me stay at her home during the session. Even though I was able to find housing, it was nice to have a back-up plan."

Representative Giddings most notably remembered Mrs. Kirk's continuous and unwavering humanitarian efforts, "Mrs. Kirk's car was often filled with items she carried around to help a person in need that she may have happened to encounter." She also recalled some welcomed advice from Mrs. Kirk regarding the homeless on street corners, "you don’t have to pass them by, it's ok to buy them some chicken." Mrs. Kirk was well-known for her crusades to improve education for Texas children, as well as fighting to racial equality throughout Austin and the rest of Texas.

Representative Giddings also remembers Mrs. Kirk's contributions as "a caring and effective educator." She explains that "Mrs. Kirk has left a legacy for her children, and a model for so many, including me."

Representative Giddings sends her condolences to Mrs. Kirk's family and friends during this time.

Contact: Morgan Constantino (512) 463-0953