Dr. Freddie B. Dixon Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Dr. Freddie B. Dixon, Sr. was born on June 6, 1944 to the late Bishop Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. and Lois Dixon. His father, Ernest, was a Methodist minister who became the first African American named as a bishop in the then-South Central regional jurisdiction (now Southwest Texas Conference) of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Dixon graduated from Philander Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts and from the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia, with a Masters of Divinity. He is married to Melonie Friley Dixon. They have five children, twelve grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He is a retired United Methodist minister and Austin resident of over 38 years who works as a community leader and civil rights advocate for African Americans and Latinos in East Austin. In addition to his pastorship in Austin, he also served as pastor in Beeville, Texas, and Universal City, Texas.
In 1973, Dr. Dixon became the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas (formerly Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church), which was established at the end of the Civil War for freed people of color in the Austin area and still serves a predominantly African American congregation. During his 22-year ministry at Wesley UMC, Dr. Dixon increased the membership size, secured a historic designation for the church as a National Historic Site by the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and created the Wesley Endowment Fund in 1988 to provide educational stipends for graduating high school seniors at Wesley UMC. He was also responsible for new land acquisitions and major renovations to the historic church building structure completed from the 1980s to the 2000s with funds completely raised by congregants.
In addition to his 22 years of ministry at Wesley UMC, Dr. Dixon frequently lectures and speaks at regional and national religious convocations. Dr. Dixon's civic and community organizing work also led to him co-founding the Austin Area Urban League, Inc. in 1977, where he served twice as the board chair. Dr. Dixon is affectionately referred to as the "father" of the Austin Area Urban League Incorporated. The Austin Area Urban League awarded Dr. Dixon its highest honor, the Whitney M. Young Award, for outstanding leadership and community service. He also led the initiative for repurposing the site of the old Kealing Junior High and Anderson High schools, forming the Future Bond Committee for the planning of the new Kealing Magnet Middle School, which opened in 1986.
Dr. Dixon served and continues to serve on many Austin boards and agencies, including: the Capitol Area United Way; Child and Family Services Incorporated; the Campfire Girls' Board of Directors; the City of Austin Planning Commission; the Men and Boys Harvest Foundation, and the African American Cultural Heritage District (of which he is a founding member). Dr. Dixon also helped found the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce (now called the Greater Austin Black Chamber). As a relentless community activist, he was a member of the Austin Black Assembly, which led the charge for the renaming of 19th Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. He also served as the president of the East 11th Street Village Association that was tasked with developing the first Neighborhood Comprehensive Plan for East 11th Street in Austin in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Dr. Dixon received numerous awards from religious and civic organizations including the above-mentioned Whitney M. Young Award, Texas United Methodist College Outstanding Service Award, Outstanding Young Men of America, Austin Independent School District African American Heritage Award (in appreciation for priceless contributions to the quality of education for all AISD students), Austin ISD Human Relations Award, the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award, the University of Texas Community Leadership Award, and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was honored in 2015 by the African American Heritage Cultural District as a "notable African American" in the Austin community. In addition to the awards he has received, Dr. Dixon has also been listed in Who's Who in Religion, International Who's Who in Community Service, American Biographical Institute, and Personalities of America. Since his retirement from Wesley UMC, Dr. Dixon has served as the Director of the University of Texas' Community Engagement Center. In this capacity, he served on the African American Advisory Committee for Educational Excellence and the Board of Directors for Interfaith Action, Central Texas. Most recently, he serves as the Special Assistant to the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.
This 2.5 linear-foot collection contains the personal papers of Dr. Freddie B. Dixon, reflecting his career in the Methodist church as well as his leadership in East Austin’s black community and his volunteer work with Austin Independent School District (AISD) and civic and religious organizations at the local and regional levels.
The Wesley United Methodist Church series (1977-2014, undated) contains correspondence to Dixon in his capacity as the Wesley United Methodist Church minister, as well as Wesley church service programs, invitations to speak at local religious institutions, and clippings from newspapers including The Austin American-Statesman and The United Methodist Reporter detailing Dixon's work with Wesley United Methodist Church in East Austin, Texas.
The United Methodist Church series (1972-1992) contains two subseries. The first is the Ernest T. Dixon subseries (1972-1988), which includes newspaper clippings focusing on the activities and accomplishments of Dixon's father, including his election to bishop and his service in San Antonio, Texas. It also contains correspondence Bishop Dixon sent to his son (including a gentle reprimand for Freddie's irregular attendance at the Southwest Texas Conference board meetings in 1986), and a few copies of Bishop Dixon's sermons. The second subseries is the Wesley United Methodist Church and Southwest Texas Conference subseries (1977-1992), which consists of meetings notes from the board of directors of the Southwest Texas Conference, as well as invitations to and programs detailing events in which Dixon and the Wesley UMC participated.
The Austin Independent School District series (1978-1992) contains letters from teachers, students and principals thanking Dixon for involvement in Black History Month events at schools in the Austin ISD, including handwritten student notes. It also contains material related to the formation of Kealing Middle School.
The City of Austin series (1976-1989) heavily emphasizes Dixon's time on the Austin City Planning Commission, including correspondence to Dixon from Mayor Carole Keeton McClellan (1978) and city council members regarding internal commission operations, as well as letters from Austin citizens regarding neighborhood zoning.
The Political Involvement series (1975-1992) chronicles Dixon's support of and correspondence with politicians at the city (Austin), state (Texas) and national levels. Though Dixon never held major political office himself, he was active in the political sphere. The Wilhelmina Delco folder (1978-1979) contains correspondence, both typed and handwritten, to Dixon from Texas State Representative Delco expressing appreciation for his support and friendship throughout her term. The Invitations and Appreciation of Support folder (1975-1992) contains correspondence from politicians at the national, Texas state, and Travis County levels including U.S. Representative J.J. Pickle, U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Texas State Senator Lloyd Doggett, and Texas State Representatives Al Edwards and Charles A. Schnabel. The content of the correspondence includes invitations to Dixon to preach, speak at, or attend political speeches and fundraising luncheons, and letters of thanks for his support.
The Austin Area Urban League series (1977-2014), encompassing eight folders, is the largest in the collection. This series spans Dixon's creation of and involvement in the Austin Area Urban League 1976 to 2014, including his two-term AAUL presidency. Materials include a 1977 Urban League orientation manual, official correspondence, local meeting minutes and memoranda, budgets and fiscal statements, and local newspaper clippings.
The 5-folder East 11th Street Village series, spanning 1980-1994, contains newspaper clippings, budgets, strategic plans, meeting minutes and correspondence covering several key events in the activities of this east Austin community planning organization, specifically: the formation of a neighborhood consolidated community district (NCCD) in the early 1980s, and the organization's efforts, including a partnership with the Bennett Consolidated financial study firm, to bring economic vitality to the area with the construction of a downtown mall called the Capital Town Center Project.
The two-folder National Business League series contains event invitations and programs for national events (1977-1990) as well as a bound 1990 report, "Central East Austin Market Analysis," which was generated for the National Business League of Austin and contains an economic analysis of this region of Austin and development strategies to achieve economic stability and growth in the region.
Dixon's involvement with Austin's higher education institutions is detailed in the Huston-Tillotson University (1978-1989) and University of Texas at Austin (1985-1989) series. Though Dixon was an adjunct professor at Huston-Tillotson, the series contains no teaching materials, instead preserving only letters to Dixon from the HT administration and a program from the inauguration of Huston-Tillotson University President Joseph MacMillan. The University of Texas series contains an invitation to speak at the dedication of Hargis Hall and newspaper clippings and a postcard commemorating that event, featuring an image of Hargis with President Jimmy Carter.
The Other Civic Involvement series (1976-1992) contains invitations to fundraising events and thank-you letters from national, Texas state and Austin city civic and nonprofit organizations, including the NAACP, United Way, Child and Family Services, Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Austin Funeral Directors Association, National Conference of Christians and Jews, Phi Delta Kappa, and Alpha Phi Alpha.
Finally, the catch-all General series (1967-2018) contains correspondence, clippings and programs from a wide variety of sources, including an invitation to 88-year-old Lillian Weaver's birthday party, a National Corrective Training Institute course completion certificate, memorial for black community leader Oliver Street, newspaper clippings and National Biographical Institute inclusion letter. Also of note is correspondence and invitations to "Three African American Bishops of the United Methodist Church" lecture and exhibition at Southern Methodist University's Bridwell Library Archives in 2018. The exhibition featured materials of Ernest T. Dixon, Jr.
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Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Materials donated by the creator, Dr. Freddie B. Dixon.
Freddie B. Dixon Papers (AR.2014.047). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2011/038
Donation Date: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018
Finding aid created and encoded by Kendra Fortmeyer and Crystal Paull in 2015.
Updated by LaToya Devezin in 2016. Updated by Kelly Hanus in 2018.
Detailed Description of the Collection