AMARILLO — When it comes to African-American milestones in the state of Texas, Amarillo has it’s place in history. To be more specific, it has a place in the Texas History books.
In 1990, Judge Morris Overstreet became the first African American elected to a state wide office.
Overstreet says it’s been a journey, ” I only left Amarillo to do bigger and better things but I always kept the connection.”
Bigger and better things were out there for the football and track star from Carver who eventually graduated from Amarillo High.
Morris Overstreet was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1990. It was a first in Texas law and politics that almost didn’t happen.
Judge Overstreet almost became Dr. Overstreet.
The Sandie graduate went off to run track and study at Angelo State. In between biology and chemistry, Overstreet decided to make a change. “I had a lot of professors that were young radicals from the University of California, Berkley. I just decided to go in a different direction and change the world.”
But getting into law school had it’s challenges.
“It was not easy for minorities to get into professional schools in Texas,” says Overstreet.
His drive made it happen. After Angelo State, Overstreet got a law degree from Texas Southern. Then it was back to Amarillo as a prosecutor for the district attorney.
From the High Plains to the history books, it was a lesson his grandson loves to share.
The judge remembers making a surprise visit to his grandson’s class. “The teacher gave them an assignment to pick out a hero to write about. He obviously picked his grandfather. Some of of his classmates said the guy you picked is in our history book. He said, that’s my grandfather. The said, oh tyrese you ought to stop telling stories.”
His teacher didn’t believe him either. So Judge Overstreet made a ruling, he was going to that school to tell them a little about Tyrese’s grandfather.
In all his years on the bench, Judge Overstreet never had a conviction overturned.
He’s currently practicing law in Houston and also represents a few players in the National Football League including Brandon LaFell, who caught a touchdown for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
Seeing the judge around Amarillo will be happening a little more often in the future. He recently bought Warford and Walker Mortuary on North Hughes.
He also plans to retire from active practice and become a visiting judge in Amarillo and around the state.