The collections on this page represent a portion of our holdings related to those who held elected or appointed office in the United States at the local level.
Lester Gibson, a veteran of the Vietnam War, graduated from Baylor University in 1974 with a sociology degree. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he edited two local newspapers – The Bottom Line and Grass Roots – to shed light on civil rights efforts and inequality in Waco. In 1988, Gibson entered politics, winning a city council seat for District #1. Two years later, he was elected to the McLennan County Commissioners Court representing Precinct #2. He was the first African American to be elected to the Commissioners Court and the third to have ever served for McLennan County.
Gibson worked as commissioner for 28 years (1990-2018), the longest tenure in county history. He focused much of his efforts on the area’s youth, economic development, and issues of equity and inclusion. He co-founded the Texas Organization of Black County Commissioners, serving as its president (1998-2001; 2011-2013) and vice president (2001-2011). He was also involved in a wide array of community service organizations including United Way, Little League, YMCA, and Habitat for Humanity. He died on June 17, 2022.
The Lester Gibson papers date from 1947 to 2022, with most materials reflecting his tenure as McLennan County Commissioner for Precinct #2. Topics addressed include education, race relations, criminal justice, economic development, and basic county infrastructure. The collection is arranged into four series based on relationships to events, organizations, individuals, or subjects. Materials pertaining to the Texas Organization of Black County Commissioners and the local chapter of the United Way feature prominently.
The collection also contains several issues of the newspapers Gibson edited. Full and partial issues of Grass Roots can be found in the physical collection. The family also loaned issues of The Bottom Line and Grass Roots that have been digitized by the Riley Digitization Center at Baylor University. These digital files are available upon request.
Waco was the site of Texas's first Democratic Convention in 1857. Since 1873, Waco Democrats have served in influential positions throughout state and national politics. The party maintained dominance in the local area for much of the twentieth century.
After Dr. Walter William resigned as McLennan County Democratic Chairman in 1979, the Executive Committee appointed Gene Evans to serve the remainder of William's term until 1980. Evans ultimately served as Chair until the fall of 1988 when his term expired. After his tenure, Evans donated various party records to the W. R. Poage Legislative Library.
Four of the most significant changes that impacted the McLennan County Democratic Party while Evans was chair were the discontinuation of voting by paper ballot, the election of the first Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction, redistricting, and presidential primaries. It is noteworthy that McLennan County was one of the last Texas counties to discontinue the use of a paper ballot.
The McLennan County Democratic Party records cover a broad portion of the twentieth century, from 1922 to 1992. The majority of the materials span the chairmanships of Walter William and Gene Evans, focusing particularly on the 1970's.
Series I. Democratic Executive Committee and Series II. Election Materials are the largest series in the collection. The records address a variety of local issues, including the discontinuation of paper ballots, redistricting, and presidential primaries. There is a wide range of materials in the collection including correspondence, financial reports, ballot results, newspaper clippings, and minutes.
The collection consists of records measuring 3 linear ft.
Mike Morrison is a Baylor University law professor that served as mayor of Waco, Texas from 1996 until 2000. He began donating his papers to the Baylor Collections of Political Materials in the summer of 1996. The papers are his personal copies of materials related to the operation of the Office of Mayor.
The collection consists of papers and measures 95.35 linear ft.