Impactful Black figures 'Mansfield 3' honored

August 31st, 2021

ARLINGTON -- Aug. 30, 1956, is a little-known anniversary in the Metroplex education system.

On that day, Pastor Floyd S. Moody and two other students attempted to integrate public schools in Mansfield, Texas. This was in Tarrant County two years after Brown v. Board of Education and a year before the Little Rock Nine attempted the same in Arkansas.

The Mansfield Three, as they became known, were unsuccessful. After being denied enrollment by members of the white community in Mansfield and Tarrant County, who formed mobs and barricades to stop the students from entering, Texas Gov. Allan Shivers would ultimately side with the community, sending Texas Rangers -- the law enforcement, not the baseball team -- to uphold segregation.

The school district was integrated the following year.

Now, the baseball Texas Rangers are working to raise awareness for the history of the little-known event and to celebrate Pastor Moody and the Black community in Tarrant County.

The club is partnering with the Black on Base Negro Leagues for Project the Positivity Night as the club takes on the Colorado Rockies on the 65th anniversary of the fight to integrate Mansfield High School.

A number of pregame ceremonies were planned to commemorate the event. Pastor Moody, the lone surviving member of the Mansfield Three, threw out the first pitch. His daughter, Beverly Lightfoot sang the national anthem alongside the Ministers Justice Coalition of Texas choir. Donations from the game and the pregame ceremonies will be donated to the Black on Base nonprofit organization.

“[The Rangers] were kind of touched by my story, and they wanted to do something for the neighborhood and for the Black community,” Pastor Moody said. “I’m pleased and thankful for the Rangers and what they have done and what they will do. It's a situation where everybody will be blessed.”

The Rangers became aware of Pastor Moody and the Mansfield Three story when the Ministers Justice Coalition and Black on Base met with the front office earlier this year. Pastor KP Tatum, who is now the reverend at Moody’s New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, worked with the Rangers to coordinate the event.

The biggest theme of the day comes from Pastor Moody himself: “Get Better, Not Bitter” -- which is a call for unity, even through tough and negative events like what he went through with the attempt to integrate Mansfield.

“When we had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Moody and Pastor Tatum, it was one of those things where we knew we needed to listen,” said Rangers director of community impact Ray Casas. “And I think listening is incredibly important. That's the only way we're going to get better as a community.

“When we heard the story, we just tried to figure out how we could honor Pastor Moody and his work. A lot of people would have just been angry, but the way that Pastor Moody has lived his life, and how he taught people to live with courage and conviction, I mean, allowing him to throw out the first pitch was the least we could do as an organization.”

In his retirement at 82 years old, Pastor Moody has been focused on building a better community for Black kids in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Part of that has always been through baseball.

Pastor Moody admits that he was never very good at baseball, but he played and coached in Tarrant County. Whether he’s good or bad at the sport itself, his main focus is helping young Black men in the community.

One of the most prideful things of Pastor Moody’s life was watching boys he coached grow up to be doctors and lawyers and any number of other professions.

So it means that much more to Pastor Moody that the Rangers are stepping forward to help the Black community in recent years. Starting with the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy, the organization has consistently worked to share the sport of baseball with the community and grow together.

“With the Rangers on our side, I feel like we can't lose,” Moody said. “We're going forward with the Rangers and I thank God for the Rangers, what they are doing and what they might do in the future. I’m optimistic about it. I believe that good things will come from what we're doing now.”