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Mayor Elzie Odom Luncheon

February 18, 2020

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us at the University of Texas at Arlington.  I’d like to acknowledge our Mayor, Jeff Williams, who is a great friend and supporter of the University and members of the city council, many of whom are alums themselves. I’d also like to welcome Mayor Greene – thank you for your leadership and the tremendous work you continue to do for the community including for students at UTA through your service as faculty member in CAPPA.   Let me thank all of them for their service and friendship.

Libraries serve many functions – they are places where history comes alive, they are centers of learning, for the collection and dissemination of knowledge, for scholarly research, and for the celebration of our history.  They hold treasures in books and media, ensuring that not only today’s students, faculty, staff and the community have access to information but that it remains in place so that generations have access to it – and in the best of libraries as we have at UTA – that it is alive, vibrant and inviting for the community and for posterity. 

Libraries are our way of not only ensuring that knowledge is made available to the world, but that we keep and treasure our history through the papers of eminent public servants who have led our community setting standards for generations to follow.  These allow us to understand not just the politics of decisions, and the progress of a community, but the inherent challenges faced by the individual as they worked for the common good.  At times these papers and collections are the first to provide scholars and the public a true glimpse of the person behind the actions, of the sacrifices made, the rationale for hard decisions, the leadership shown in changing direction at critical times in history, and allow us to celebrate greatness.

Today we are honored to be able to do two things – first to celebrate the legacy of a remarkable individual whose actions in the late 90’s set the stage for the Arlington we see around us today, and then to thank him and his family for the donation of his and his wife’s papers to the Special Collections at UTA. Mayor, and Mrs. Odom, we are truly honored to have you here today and deeply appreciate the trust and faith you have placed in UTA through the donation of your papers.  This is a landmark for the University.

Elected as the first African-American to Arlington City Council in 1990, the future Mayor worked on issues critical to the socio-economic future of the city - redistricting, transportation and mobility as well as far-reaching initiatives to keep the Texas Rangers Baseball Club and the General Motors Automobile Assembly Plant in Arlington. As a three-term Mayor, he led successful efforts for continued growth and success, and his actions set the stage for the thriving city we see around us, for the excellence in higher education and the emergence of theater and arts.  A tireless advocate for equity and inclusiveness Mayor Odom worked to increase diversity on city boards and commissions and led the way through his active participation with Asian and Hispanic organizations, as well as the Arlington Branch of the NAACP and U.S. Conference of Black Mayors. He supported programs for people with disabilities and brought new focus to the inclusion of seniors and to enabling their involvement and wellness.  His actions led the way for the wonderful diverse, progressive, economically vibrant city that we call home – the American Dream City, and in the papers that he has donated lie the stories of sacrifice and courage, of leadership and service, of high standards and vision, and we are truly honored to be able to house them at UTA making them available for study, for inspiration, and for history, enabling his legacy to live on and provide motivation and direction for generations yet to come.

May I ask all of you to please join me in a round of applause for Mayor and Mrs. Odom.

We are honored, truly honored, to play a small role in celebrating a legacy of service and leadership, and I’m deeply grateful to Mayor and Mrs. Odom and the Odom family.  Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do for Arlington, for UTA, and for our community. You set the bar high through your service and you continue to lead by example, inspiring those who follow in your footsteps.  Thank you again.