Lonnie Belle Hodges
Lonnie Belle Hodges, the daughter of Mary Persey Belle and Alonzo Belle, was born in Waco, Texas on July 24, 1898. She attended A. J. Moore High School but dropped out to marry Mack Henson Hodges in 1914. The couple had two daughters together and were married for fifty-seven years until Mack's passing on December 12, 1971.
Hodges performed several secretarial and custodial jobs in the early years of her marriage including stints at Sanger Brothers and a local post office. She also assisted her husband who was the advertising and circulation manager for The Waco Messenger, a prominent African American newspaper in Waco. Lonnie folded the newspapers, collected advertisements, and served as the society editor for the newspaper.
As she worked, Hodges attended Paul Quinn College and completed her high school diploma and her bachelor's in elementary education. She later earned a master's degree from the University of Denver. Hodges held brief teaching stints in the area, becoming, as she claimed in her oral memoirs, the second African American substitute teacher in the Waco school system after Erline Henry. Hodges lived her entire life in the Waco area, living through segregation and ultimately the integration of the Waco community and its school system. She passed away on January 2, 1999, at the age of 100 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
More information about Lonnie Belle Hodges can be found at the Institute for Oral History.
Interview of Lonnie Belle Hodges by Vivienne Malone-Mayes. August 30, 1990. Transcript, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, Texas.
Interview of Lonnie Belle Hodges by Courtney Williams. February 17, 1993. Transcript, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, Texas.
Interview of Lonnie Belle Hodges by Stephanie Kay Barron. March 8, 1994. Transcript, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, Texas.