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Hazel Harvey Peace
*Hazel Harvey Peace was born on this date in 1907. She was a Black educator, activist, and humanitarian. She was born Hazel Bernice Harvey in Waco, Texas, to Allen H. and Georgia Mason Harvey; the family moved to Fort Worth as a baby.
Peace's father was a Pullman Porter on the Missouri and Pacific Railroad, and her mother was a homemaker who also owned a children's clothing shop. Peace was reading at the age of four, an only child and considered a prodigy. She attended James E. Guinn Elementary School through sixth grade, then went to high school at the Fort Worth Colored School, graduating at thirteen. An active reader, she spent much of her time at Fort Worth's segregated Carnegie Public Library, where she could check out books but not stay and read them.
She attended Howard University, where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. After graduating in 1923, Peace returned to Fort Worth to teach at her alma mater, then renamed I.M. Terrell High School, while still a teenager. Between school years, she attended summer classes at Columbia University in New York, living at the YWCA in Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. After earning her master's degree from Columbia, she continued her postgraduate education by taking summer courses at the University of Wisconsin, Vassar College, Hampton University, and Atlanta University.
Hazel Harvey married contractor Joe Peace, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, in 1938. She always used her full name, Hazel Harvey Peace. The couple had no children, but she was nicknamed "Mama Hazel" by her students, whom she considered family. Peace was known as the "matriarch" of I.M. Terrell High School, working there from 1924 until it was closed in 1972 due to court-ordered desegregation. She spent nearly 50 years at the school, first as a teacher, then a counselor, dean of girls, and vice-principal.
She taught whatever subject was needed, including English, drama, debate, and history. Peace launched a children's theater at I.M. Terrell, where kids from local black elementary schools could attend plays and a debate club. Due in part to Peace's tireless efforts to make up for the segregated school's lack of resources, I.M. Terrell became known for the quality of its college-prep curriculum and for producing most of Fort Worth's black middle class. Jazz musician Ornette Coleman, Texas state legislator Reby Cary, Harvard professor James Cash, Jr., and Fort Worth journalist Bob Ray Sanders are among Peace's former students.
After retiring from I.M. Terrell, Peace worked administrative positions at Bishop College and Paul Quinn College, Huston-Tillotson College, and Prairie View A&M University. She retired from education in 1981. Peace volunteered in the evenings at Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital and campaigned for "equalization" of black and white teachers' salaries. After her retirement, she became more active in the community as an advocate for youth, women, and the homeless. She served on the Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Fort Worth Public Library Advisory Council, the board of the Women's Center of Tarrant County, the United Way, the Fort Worth chapter of the NAACP, YWCA, and the reading program at Bethlehem Community Center in Fort Worth.
In 1992, Harvey Peace received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Texas Wesleyan University, and Fort Worth Public Library's youth center was named after her. In 2001, Peace participated as an Olympic torchbearer in advance of the Salt Lake City winter games. In 2007, the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Science created an endowed professorship in children's library services in Peace's honor, the first in Texas to be named after a Black woman.
The Fort Worth Public Library held a public celebration for Peace's 100th birthday in 2007. Hazel Harvey Peace died on June 8, 2008. She made a lasting impact on Fort Worth and the educational community. Hers was the first public Black funeral in Fort Worth, and memorials to Hazel Harvey Peace were entered into the remarks of the U.S. House of Representatives and Congressional Record. In 2010, Fort Worth ISD opened the Hazel Harvey Peace Elementary School in southwest Fort Worth.