Remembering Dr. William Charles Akins

May 10, 2017

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. remembers the late Dr. William Charles Akins, retired educator, high school principal and district administer with the Austin Independent School District. Akins died on March 29, 2017. He was 84.

Dr. William Charles Akins was the first African-American teacher in an integrated school in the Austin Independent School District. He served for more than 50 years and was the district's first African American principal.

During the days of segregation, Akins attended Blackshear Elementary School, Kealing Junior High School and L.C. Anderson High School. Akins aspired to be a teacher and a principal in large part due to the influences of his teachers and principals during his student days in East Austin schools.

Akins earned a bachelor's degree in history from Huston-Tillotson College, now a university, a master's degree from Prairie View A&M University, and received his administrative certification from Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State.

In 1956, Akins began his career at Booker T. Washington High School in Marlin, Texas, teaching history, civics and economics.

In 1973, Akins was selected as the first principal of the new L.C. Anderson High School during one of the most turbulent social times in Austin history: the implementation of federally mandated school busing for racial integration.

This was one of many firsts in his career. In 1964, Akins was the first African-American teacher to work at a high school in the desegregated AISD, and the he broke the color barrier in broadcasting by hosting a sports report segment on the local PBS-TV station. Also, he was the first African-American football official to work integrated high school games in Austin, and was one of the first African-American officials to work the Texas Relays.

In 1998, the Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted to name its newest high school in his honor. In August 2000, the W. Charles Akins High School opened its doors to students.