AKINS, WILLIAM CHARLES
AKINS, WILLIAM CHARLES (1932–2017). William Charles Akins, African American educator, administrator, sportscaster, and community leader, was born in Austin, Texas, on November 9, 1932. He was the son of gospel radio announcer Elmer Akins and Mattie (Watson) Akins. Known as Charles, he grew up in East Austin and was educated in the Austin public school system during segregation. He attended Blackshear Elementary School and Kealing Junior High School. He graduated in 1950 from the original L. C. Anderson High School. In 1954 Akins earned an undergraduate degree in history from Huston-Tillotson College (now University). He earned a master’s degree from Prairie View A & M College (now University) in education in 1956. Akins later received an administrative certification from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas.
His career in education spanned forty-four years during the tense years of segregation, integration, and court-mandated busing. In 1956 he began his first teaching job at Booker T. Washington High School in Marlin, Texas. Akins returned to Austin in 1959 and taught at his alma mater, the original Anderson High School, where he was voted “Teacher of the Year” in 1962. When the Austin Independent School District began the process of integration in 1964, Akins was transferred to Johnston High School (now Eastside Memorial High School), where he was the first African American teacher at an AISD high school after desegregation. In 1969 he returned to the original L. C. Anderson High School in East Austin and served as assistant principal until that school’s closing in 1971, when he became assistant principal at Lanier High School.
With the opening of the new and integrated L. C. Anderson High School in Northwest Austin in 1973, Akins became principal—AISD’s first African American principal after court-mandated busing. He served as principal for nine years. He later recalled, “…one of the great challenges we had was to get the faculty together with me and the community to see if we couldn’t, through our human relations efforts, to bring those kids together so they could know each other and to appreciate each other and to respect each other.” After his tenure at Anderson High School, Akins became an assistant superintendent of AISD, and in 1994 he became associate superintendent for community relations. In 1998 the AISD school board voted to name W. Charles Akins High School in his honor for his commitment to the school district and for his dedication to the education of young people.
Although known for his pioneering efforts in education, Akins was also a trailblazer in the media and beginning in the mid-1960s became the first African-American sportscaster on television in Austin for the Central Texas Public Broadcasting Station KLRN-TV (now KLRU-TV). He also served as a sports official for University Interscholastic League (UIL) athletic events; he was a football official for all high school divisions and the Texas Relays.
Akins was an active civic leader. He was a charter member and former president of the Capital City Lions Club, former chapter president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a member of Carver Museum Ambassadors, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and Huston-Tillotson University Alumni.
Akins retired in 2000 but remained connected to the education field. He served on the board of directors for Region 13 Education Service Center, Westminster Manor, Stillwell Retirement Home for Teachers, UIL Waiver Review Board, and the UIL Foundation. He was a devoted member of Wesley United Methodist Church and held many positions there, including church announcing clerk, church steward, lay speaker, Sunday school superintendent, district lay leader, and delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences for the United Methodist Church. He also served in local, district, and conference roles in the United Methodist Church under the former West Texas Conference and the former Southwest Texas Conference (now Rio Texas Conference).
He received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award; Heman Marion Sweatt Legacy Award; Legacy Changer Award; and Tower of Light Community Service Award from Huston-Tillotson University. Huston-Tillotson University gave him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1982. He also received a Lifetime Membership Award from the United Methodist Men.
William Charles Akins married Estella Ruth Wilson on June 25, 1956. They had two daughters. Akins died in Austin on March 29, 2017, and his funeral service was held at Wesley United Methodist Church. More than 450 plus persons were in attendance. He was survived by his wife, daughters Dianne Akins Iglehart and Joyce Akins of Houston, and grandchildren Justin Iglehart and Rena Iglehart. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Austin.
Austin American-Statesman, April 5, 6, 2017. “The DDCE Say Goodbye to Longtime Austin Educator Dr. Charles Akins,” Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, University of Texas at Austin (https://diversity.utexas.edu/2017/03/29/the-ddce-says-goodbye-to-longtime-austin-educator-dr-charles-akins/), accessed May 18, 2019. John L. Hanson, Jr., “Remembering Dr. William Charles Akins,” KUT (https://www.kut.org/post/remembering-dr-william-charles-akins-0), accessed May 18, 2019. The Villager, April 7, 2017 (http://www.theaustinvillager.com/pdfs/2017/2017apr07.pdf), accessed May 18, 2019. “William Akins,” The History Makers (https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/william-akins-41), accessed May 18, 2019.
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