Words are important to Dorothy Minter.
The Denton children’s author sits in her home with books she has written.
Minter’s childhood influenced the storylines of her series, The Adventures of Lucy Lou. Growing up in Hopkins County, Minter and her siblings lived on a 40-acre farm. Minter laughs about milking the cows too dry, walking with her cousins in the woods and her mother’s fear of ghosts — experiences that served as the basis for her stories.
The retired special education teacher first moved to Denton in 1955 as a newlywed. Soon after, University of North Texas (then North Texas State College) desegregated, allowing Minter to complete her education degree a few years later.
“Denton was very segregated then. We could use only certain water fountains,” she said. “They had bathrooms at the courthouse, but there was only one stall that black people could use, and they had an attendant there that made sure you went into the right one.”
From an early age, Minter showed grit — a quality that allowed her to excel later in life as a much sought-after teacher.
Minter said she faced discrimination not only from classmates but even from some professors. She recalled one professor who was dismissive of her and racial in his comments to the class.
“So I went up to him after class, and I told him that I didn’t appreciate it,” she said. “I thought he was going to flunk me.”
Minter eventually got her teaching degree and began her career at Fred Moore School, Denton’s all-black school at the time. After integration, Minter moved up and was quickly promoted to special education director, a title she held for 16 years. Minter recalled one moment when she said she threatened a district official who marked down her glowing evaluations, saying, “If you don’t let me keep my salary, I’m going to sue you.”
After 30 years of service, Minter said she woke up one morning and decided to retire. Despite her new resolve, district organizers begged her to work part time, granting her the position of a “consultant.”
Though she developed a love of reading at an early age, devouring books smuggled in by a teacher from the white-only library, Minter did not begin writing children’s stories until after her husband passed away in 2008. Encouraged by the positive responses she received from students at Tomas Rivera and Sam Houston elementary schools, Minter began developing the series based on a wealth of life experience.
Her story, Lucy Lou and the Handicapped Pumpkin, draws on her years as a special education teacher.
“The handicapped pumpkin grew out of my work with handicapped children because so many of the regular teachers who had these children felt like they couldn’t do anything.
“Yes, they were slower than other kids, but a part of it was that the teachers just kinda wrote ’em off,” she said. “So this book expresses my feelings about that.”
After a long career, Minter has stepped down from official education. Nevertheless, she plans to continue writing her stories — teaching the values she has lived her whole life through words.