Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

DIRKS, FRANCES GARRETT VALENTINE (ca. 1925–1991). Frances Garrett Valentine Dirks, leader in the Democratic party in Texas, was born in Dallas around 1925, and for most of her life she lived on the same street in that city. She opened an apartment-cleaning business in Dallas after being employed briefly as a domestic worker. As a young woman she married Roosevelt Valentine, with whom she had three sons. Following Valentine's death, she married John Dirks, who also preceded her in death. In the 1960s Frances Dirks became interested in political and social issues, especially desegregation efforts in her hometown. As a result, she gave up her business and entered full-time political work. She was a member of the staff of several Texas Democratic politicians, including state senator Mike McKool and United States representative John Bryant, for whom she was working at the time of her death. She also served on the campaign staffs of Ron Kessler, Martin Frost, John Bryant, and Jim Mattox. She was an active participant in numerous Democratic state conventions and served as a delegate to the party's national conventions in 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988. In 1974 she became the first black Texan to be elected to the state Democratic Executive Committee from her senatorial district. She was also a leader in the Democratic Progressive Voters League. For her political activism and commitment to the Democratic party, Dirks was honored by the League of Educational Advancement, the Coalition of Black Democrats, the Lesbian-Gay Political Coalition of Dallas, and the Democratic Women of Dallas County. She died of cancer in Dallas on February 16, 1991. Her funeral services at Mount Horeb Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas were attended by numerous local, state, and national politicians. She is buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Dallas. Her survivors included her three sons, three brothers, one sister, and several grandchildren.

Dallas Morning News, February 22, 24, 1991.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "DIRKS, FRANCES GARRETT VALENTINE," accessed July 18, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdihj.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox