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New library to focus on youth literacy is named for education advocate

Posted June 27, 2019

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During the June 25 City Council work session, Fort Worth Public Library Director Manya Shorr, right, was joined by Faith and Bill Ellis during discussion about the new library’s name.

A pioneering Fort Worth native’s name will be used for a new Fort Worth Public Library location set to open next summer on East Lancaster Avenue.

As the first library designed specifically to serve children, teens and their caregivers, the Reby Cary Youth Library will be located at 3851 E. Lancaster Ave., with construction funded by the 2014 Bond. The name was announced publicly at the Fort Worth City Council’s work session June 25.

Name suggestions were solicited from the public, with the 123 unique names pared down by District 8 Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association President Tonya Ferguson and library leadership to the top five. Cary received the most online votes with 826.

Reby Cary (1920-2018) graduated from I.M. Terrell High School and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and political science from Prairie View A&M. He was the first African American elected to the Fort Worth ISD Board of Education, and the first African American professor hired at UT-Arlington. He helped establish the McDonald College of Industrial Arts for African Americans in the Riverside area, and as District 95 state representative, helped pass legislation to establish the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission to fight discrimination. Those are only a few of his many accomplishments.

During the council work session, Mayor Betsy Price said that Cary was her history professor when she was a junior at UT-Arlington. “He was one of the toughest teachers, but also one of the most entertaining,” she said, adding that she was pleased the new library would be named for him.

Cary was a strong advocate for education, something true in his own home as well.

“My parents were very open about teaching me social justice, very open about civil rights, especially what was going on in the local community,” said Faith Ellis, Cary’s daughter.

She said her father had a large personal library from which she would borrow books. She remembers as an 8-year-old, reading a biography about Malcolm X and later discussing the book with her father.

Sometimes her father’s work would happen right in front of her, or she would hear about important things going on and realize her father was a part of it. “There was redistricting going on in my living room,” she said.

The design by architects KAI Texas is complete for the nearly 8,000-square-foot library branch, with the bid process about to begin. The library will serve as a tangible public reminder of Cary’s legacy, especially his focus on education.

“He’s got to be in Heaven somewhere just rolling, smiling big and absolutely thrilled about the library. He was so concerned about the youth in the community and education. Libraries are our first introduction to education,” Ellis said. “He’d be really humbled.”

Fort Worth Public Library Director Manya Shorr said it is exciting to open a location dedicated to youth literacy.

“We are pleased to name this library after a noted community leader,” Shorr said. “Mr. Reby Cary was a Fort Worth native who was dedicated to serving his city. His life included a lot of firsts, from breaking barriers on the Fort Worth ISD school board and at UT-Arlington and beyond. We hope his name inspires all those who enter Fort Worth’s first youth library’s doors to push the limits to achieve great things in their own lives.”

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