Velma Waters was one of the first Black students to be accepted at East Texas State University, following the desegregation of the university. She became the first Black student to earn a bachelor’s degree at ETSU. The Velma K. Waters Library is named in her honor as she set an example of excellence for many Black students to come.
Velma Kinchlow Waters was born August 12, 1931 to Leo and Bertha Kinchlow in Hunt County. Her father worked on the construction of Mayo and Binnion Halls on campus. She graduated from St. Paul’s High School in Neylandville and attended Prairie View A&M for one year before enrolling at East Texas State College, even though her request for admission had been denied a few years earlier by President Gee. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the university and received two master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. She married Robert Earl Waters in 1949 and they had nine children together. She was a teacher in Carthage, Texas and passed away there on January 10, 1999 at the age of 68.