Lang, Harold Wendell, Sr. (1926–1980)

By: Michael M. Miller

Type: Biography

Published: July 8, 2013

Updated: September 29, 2020

Harold Wendell Lang, Sr., a Dallas educator, school administrator, and historian, was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 13, 1926. The fifth of six children born to Hulen and Annie Lang, the future social justice advocate grew up in the Wheatley section of southeast Dallas. Lang attended Wheatley Elementary School and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1943. He went on to obtain a B.A. from what later became Huston-Tillotson College in Austin and began teaching in Bremond, Texas, in 1947. Lang moved to Dallas after three years and taught at George Washington Carver Elementary School. A master’s degree from Prairie View A&M College (now Prairie View A&M University) helped earn Lang the position of principal at N.W. Harllee Elementary School in 1957; he remained there until 1971. In the meantime, the educator earned his doctorate in 1970 after completing his Ed.D. at North Texas State University (now University of North Texas). His dissertation was entitled, “Relationship of the Self-concept of Fifth-grade Negro Students with Their Knowledge of Negro Leaders and Events.”

In 1971 Lang became the director of system-wide testing for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). In that position, he was responsible for planning, distribution, and implementation of district-wide educational testing. He assisted in curriculum development and was responsible for testing orientation and staff development. On the eve of court-ordered desegregation in DISD in 1975, Lang was named the principal of Lincoln High School and became the director of the renewal project that later led to construction of a new Lincoln High School. Controversy plagued the effort, both regarding the adequacy of the project funding and the progress toward integration.

Lang also became known as an author and historian for Dallas’s Black community. He prepared The Negro in American History exhibit at the Texas State Fair in 1967, the first year the fair opened all of its attractions to Blacks. He was the major contributor on Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce 50th Anniversary, 1926–1976, an organization-published historical review of the group’s development and growth. Reportedly, at the time of his death, Lang was completing a compilation of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s writings on the Operation PUSH program that promoted excellence in education. Lang chaired the local PUSH chapter’s board of directors.

Lang was active in many community activities and organizations and received numerous honors and awards throughout his life. In addition to his role with Operation PUSH, he was a board member of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce (now Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce), Good Haven Foundation, Venture Advisors, Tri-Racial Committee, West Dallas Community Center, and the South Dallas County Cub Scout POW WOW in 1972. The American Teachers Association awarded Lang their Outstanding Educational Service Award in 1963. In 1969 his alma mater recognized him for the Huston-Tillotson College Alumni Award for Academic Achievement. The Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce honored him with their Outstanding Achievement Award in 1971, and the Theta Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity capped his service with their Man of the Year award in 1977. He received the Operation PUSH Education Award in 1977 and the 1978 Committee of 100 Education Award. The Society of Distinguished American High School Students posthumously recognized Lang for their National Appreciation Award.

Lang died at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas on February 14, 1980, at age fifty-three. Mourned by his community, Lang left behind his wife, the former Bobbie Lee Elston; a son, Harold Jr.; and two daughters, Gloria and Linda. Lang’s funeral service was held at the Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas, where he had been a deacon and trustee. He was buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park.

Dallas Morning News, October 10, 1967; December 7, 1975; February 16, 1980. Sadye Gee, comp., Darnell Williams, ed., Black Presence in Dallas: Historic Black Dallasites (Dallas: Museum of African American Life and Culture, 1988?). Mamie L. McKnight, ed., African American Families and Settlements of Dallas: On the Inside Looking Out (Dallas: Black Dallas Remembered, Incorporated, 1990). Mamie L. McKnight, ed., First African American Families of Dallas: Creative Survival—Exhibition and Family History Memoirs, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Black Dallas Remembered Steering Committee, 1987).

  • Education
  • Educators
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Michael M. Miller, “Lang, Harold Wendell, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 8, 2013
September 29, 2020

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