Tatum, Lufkin High Schools pay tribute to pre-integration Black high schools

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 11:45 AM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - Tatum and Lufkin high schools remembered two black schools paying them a tribute from the days of segregation. The impact of those schools are still felt today in their communities.

Sixty-eight years ago, the world of black-and-white changed, that is when Brown versus Topeka Board of Education ruled it was unconstitutional for segregation in America’s public schools. See for me this is a story that hits home. My father was in the Topeka, Kansas school system when the ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court. He would graduate three years after that ruling. You’re looking at partly the remains of the once proud Mayflower colored high school, which is how the school was referred to back in the 50s, and ironically the school was built a year after the supreme court ruling.

In week three of the high school football season Tatum’s football team paid tribute to the school Mayflower that they had heard about from their fathers’ grandfathers and uncles, wearing the jerseys of the players who attended Mayflower.

Clifford Harkless a Mayflower alum said he was “very appreciative of everybody I talked to, they were, they were appreciative because we took pride in everything we did. I’ll just share one of these, one of my dad’s favorite little sayings. He would say pride over, pride over work. Plus, proof is equal success. So, if you worked hard took pride and what you were doing, and you got results then you’re going to be successful.”

Drenon Fite Jr., Tatum Assistant Superintendent said “in the past, they’re not many pictures and trophies left because there was some fires and it burned a lot of the artifacts. So, this gives an opportunity and a visual for those to kind of see it one more time.”

The Lufkin panthers the previous week paid tribute to Dunbar High School. It too was an all-black school and those school teachers, as did Mayflower’s, pushed excellence.

Harkless said “Brown vs. Topeka although it was the law, it said with all deliberate speed.”

I imagine your father stressed academics to his student athletes.

Harkless responded, “Yeah, well on tv, you know sometimes today you hear athletes get ready to go pro, in something above athletes. We were taught that in the late 50s, 1960s, to be the best that you can be in all the arenas. Because everybody’s gifted, in a different way. So, if you try to be the best that you can be, you’re going to be able to compete at a high level. And that’s what we were taught, thank you.”