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Taylor disregarded obstacles to blaze her path

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In celebrating Black History Month, the Post-Register is looking back on people that made their mark as local legends.

From staff reports

Azie Taylor Morton overcame many obstacles to become the first — and to this day the only — African American to hold the office of Treasurer of the United States.

Born in the St. John enclave in the Dale community northeast of Lockhart, served as U.S. Treasurer during the Jimmy Carter Administration from Sept. 12, 1977, to Jan. 20, 1981. In fact, Taylor’s signature was printed on U.S. currency for three years during that period.

Born Feb. 1, 1936, to Fleta Hazel Taylor, Azie did not know her father and was raised along with 13 other siblings by her maternal grandparents on the farm. As a youngster, she worked in cotton fields and attended the Texas Blind, Deaf and Orphan School only because there was no high school for African Americans in her area. She graduated at the top of her class at the age of 16.

She earned her degree in education from Huston-Tillotson University, an all-black college in Austin, in 1952, and after being denied admission to the University of Texas’ graduate program due to the state’s segregation policies, Taylor became a teacher at the Crocker School for Girls, a state-sponsored school for delinquents.

Taylor later became a staff member for the newly formed Texas AFLCIO, a major labor union.

Taylor served on President John F. Kennedy’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and from 1972-76 served as a special assistant to Robert Schwarz Strauss, chair of the Democratic National Committee. She also served as an election observer in Haiti, Senegal, and the Dominican Republic, was a member of the American Delegation to Rome for the Enthronement of Pope John Paul II, was chair of the People to People Mission in both the Soviet Union and Chine, and was representative to the first African/African American Conference held in Africa.

Described as “passionate about public service and the need to give back to the community,” Morton remains one of the Caldwell County’s most influential and successful natives.

Taylor married James Homer Morton on May 29, 1965, and the couple had two daughters, Virgie Floyd and Stacey Terry. She also had two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.

She would also serve on the Austin Housing Authority Board of Commissioners from 1991-2001; was a director for a company called HIV-VAC, a Nevada corporation that conducts HIV research; served on the Citizens Fund Board of trustees for 10 years (1991-2001, including five years as chair; was a member of both the Schlotzsky’s Deli and Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers boards of directors; also a board member for St. Edward’s University, the National Democratic Institute, and Austin Children’s Museum; served as president of Exeter Capital Asset Management Co.; and at the time of her death was the manager for Ram Bookstore, an independent stored serving students at Huston-Tillotson University. She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

After suffering a stroke on Dec. 6, 2003, she died the next day at her Bastrop County home due to complications.

In April 2018, Robert E. Lee Road in Austin was renamed Azie Morton Road in her honor.

In the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, Morton said, “It isn’t luck, and it isn’t circumstances, and it isn’t being born a certain way that causes a person’s future to become what it becomes… Nothing has to remain the way it is if that’s not the way a person wants it to be.”

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  1. Lynda G Jones 17 February, 2022 at 07:34 Reply

    Sojourner Truth asked the question, Ain’t I A Woman? MRS Azie Taylor you more than answered the question for Black “and” Women History.
    You were born for greatness; preserved against all odds and amassed a “dream undeferred.” What GOD purposes, no mortal can thwart.
    You rocked, you reigned!

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