Willie Mae Kirk, also known as “Ankie,” of Austin, TX, was a civil rights leader who led black students in protest against injustice in the 1940’s. Ms. Kirk worked as a teacher in Austin schools for 32 years. Among her battles was discrimination in public venues of Austin and voter registration. She was the mother of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who had also served as the mayor of Dallas, Texas.

Willie Mae Kirk was raised in Manor, TX. She received her education at Huston-Tillotson University.

Ms. Kirk was such a driving force of civil rights in the Austin community, that the city honored her with the Willie Mae Kirk branch of the East Austin library in Oak Springs. The ceremony was held in February 2012 with the Buffalo Soldiers serving as Honor Guards along with a host of city officials in attendance.

Willie Mae Kirk, who was under care for a heart condition and surgery, passed away last week after suffering a stroke. She was 92 years old. Her husband, Lee Kirk, who was the first black postal office clerk in Austin, TX, passed away in 1982.

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