Dunbar Hall of Honor keep the past alive

Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 10:00 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Across from Dunbar Primary School is a piece of Lufkin ISD property that keeps the past alive.

The Dunbar Education Center not only houses LISD offices but also the Hall of Honor. The museum set up by the Dunbar Alumni Association sits in the building that used to house the Home economics classes of Dunbar High School.

In 1923, Dunbar Elementary-Junior-Senior High School first opened with one principal and three teachers. The school was set up to offer educational opportunities to black children. It operated until 1970. After that the school was integrated into Lufkin High school. The building became Dunbar Intermediate which was the middle school for all Lufkin children.

Through the years Dunbar High became known for athletics, winning three state titles in football and fielding multiple champions in tennis and track as well. The school has also produced athletes like Pro Football Hall of Famer, Ken Houston, Super Bowl Champion Joe Williams and track stars Curtis and Marvin Mills.

The Dunbar Hall of Honor is one of the few museums set up around the state set up to honor the tradition of the black segregated schools.

“Dunbar was the life of Lufkin,” Sellestine Collins Hunt said.

“There are a few with Lufkin, like Livingston and Anderson in Austin that do this,” said Robert Brown, the president of the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association said. “It takes people like the ones here in Lufkin to make sure that all of our heritage and memorabilia is saved.”

The Hall of honor not only keeps items of importance but also has inductees and many of those go on to be inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Hall of Honor. The PVIL was the association the segregated black schools participated under. It was like it’s counterpart - the UIL.

This year Sellestine Collins Hunt, Brenda Anderson Tankersley, Cedric Buckley and late coaches Willie Ross and coach Oscar Kennedy, Sr. were inducted into the PVIL Hall of Honor. Hunt and Tankersley have been friends for over five decades and it started as childhood friends winning state doubles together at Dunbar.

“Dunbar gave us what we needed to not only be successful on the tennis court but also in life,” Hunt said. “We had state championships in tennis, football and track but we also had them in academics.

If you ever get to talk to anyone who walked the halls of Dunbar they will tell you not only about the success on the fields of play but also of the attitude given to them by the teachers who wanted to watch future leaders in the community succeed.

“The instructors did not just look at us as students,” Tankersley said. “They looked at us as if we were theirs. They took the time to instill in us everything they would want in their own children.”

The Hall of Honor is ran by the Dunbar Alumni Association with an association through Lufkin ISD. To schedule a visit you can contact Johnnie Ross at 936-229-1337.

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