Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive October 2016 Show 1640 Eddie Warrior - You Gotta Have a Skill

Eddie Warrior - You Gotta Have a Skill

Value Added: We remember Eddie Warrior, a man who settled in Oklahoma well before statehood and whose legacy changed people’s lives.
Eddie Warrior - You Gotta Have a Skill

Eddie Warrior - You Gotta Have a Skill

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma Historical Society

Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center

Show Details

Show 1640: Eddie Warrior - You Gotta Have a Skill
Air Date: October 2, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well today we introduce you to a gentleman whose family arrived in Oklahoma well before statehood. Eddie Warrior’s great-grandmother came here along the Trail of Tears in 1836, a slave to the Muskogee Creek Nation. Born in 1902, Eddie Warrior was the last member of his family to be enrolled as a Creek Freedman newborn, an Indian on paper, but a black man in the eyes of what was then a segregated state. But Eddie Warrior’s life was defined more by the measure of his heart than it ever was the color of his skin. Today we look back at his remarkable life and legacy through the eyes of three women, his daughter Edwynae, his granddaughter Jackie and great-granddaughter Lisa.

Edwynae Warrior-Walker: That’s my all-time favorite, this one right here when he’s standing in his suit at the door with the Black Angus cows behind him.

Rob: For the women of the Warrior family, Eddie Warrior was a giant among men.

Edwynae: Uh huh, that was natural for him.

Jacqueline Warrior: He was a big man, a tall man, as the men in our family tended to be. And a very deep voice.

Rob: Standing over 6 feet 4, he was known as treetop on the playing field, a stature only equaled by the size of his heart.

Jacqueline: But he was very gentle with us, very good with girls because my mom, his first wife, died when I was 5, and I just remember him getting up cause I would start to cry at night, missing my mom, and I just remember that he’d get up at night when I was scared of the dark and, you know, try as best he could to comfort me.

Rob: And such kindness extended into his professional life. Always a man of the land, Eddie Warrior farmed for a living while also raising a young family and going to college.

Jacqueline: And he was telling me about how, you know, with a young wife, a new wife and a baby at home, that he actually slept in the dairy barn when he was on the campus at Langston because he didn’t have the money for the dorm.

Rob: After graduation, Warrior began teaching in the segregated schools of the 1920s, becoming a principal and a county supervisor.

Jacqueline: He had to sort of talk to them about black history when there was nothing written down in textbooks about it, to sort of like build up kids. And I think, when I think about it, I was like, that was so him, it was always about building up young people.

Rob: Warrior continued to touch young people’s lives throughout his career, teaching skills as much for life as for a degree.

Edwynae: His, his basic philosophy about that is always learn to do something with your hands. Like, he supported boys clubs and things like that, because those are the things you could always fall back on. And so he was really all about skills.

Rob: All the while earning the respect of fellow educators and gaining friendships across the state.

Lisa Benjamin: One thing my father pointed out to me was that, I remember my grandfather was inducted into the African-American Educators Hall of Fame probably several months back, and he was trying to explain to me that the importance because he was like, Lisa, your granddad wasn’t just a local educator. He said, he had appointments by the governor, by governors that had kind of colorful pasts [laughter] and Alfalfa Bill Murray [laughter]. And he was really a political person, and that’s why I didn’t really, the business part, you know, he just always seemed like he was about business. But what I saw in him was like the, always the politician. I remember talking to Edwnynae, and I didn’t know who people were, and it was like George Nigh and all these different people, but I didn’t know who they were, you know, but they would be at our house or his house, and just we just grew up around ‘em.

Rob: Elected chairman of the first board of trustees of Indian Capital Vo-Tech, Warrior was as at ease in the boardroom as he was the classroom, yet never forgot his roots.

Edwynae: We have a picture here of him in a suit and a pasture with some Black Angus cows, that’s, that was the way he dressed all the time.

Lisa: Checking cows with a tie and a suit.

Edwynae: Even when he was sitting around the house, he’d be in suit pants, like she said, dress shirt buttoned like you have on and with the sleeves cuffed up, and that was casual for him.

Lisa: And dress shoes that would always be clean, very clean and polished.

Edwynae: Always, because he taught me how to shine ‘em.

Jacqueline: Shining shoes [laughter].

Edwynae: And he used to give me a quarter for shining his shoes.

Jacqueline: I remember him telling me when I was away working, it was like when times are the roughest that’s when you put on your best clothes, you pull yourself together, and you don’t look like, you know, you’re having problems.

Rob: Warrior lived a busy professional life, but through it all, always made time for family.

Edwynae: And, like, the Director Lord Rader would come down, and they’d be meeting in my dad’s office, and I just want to jump in here with this part, is that he always found time for us no matter what he was doing. Because if I knocked on the door and Mr. Rader was in there he would say who is it, and I’d open the door, and he’d say, oh, let’s stop, that’s my baby. You know, he always made sure that he recognized us; he was really, really about family.

Rob: Well, Eddie Warrior passed away in 1979, a full life filled with family and friends, yet even today, his legacy still lives on. Right behind me is the Eddie Warrior Correctional Unit, a female prison where inmates have the opportunity to turn around their lives with education and skills training, a fitting tribute to a man who spent his own life helping others help themselves. Inside this classroom at Eddie Warrior, lives are changing for the better.