AAA Football Champions in Louisiana

Football was part of the fabric of the African American high school experience. There were three divisions in the LIALO classifications of schools, A, AA and AAA, based upon school population. The AAA was the largest school classification and much of the attention was directed toward their exploits. The History section of Significant Notes presents the AAA victors and and the Runner-ups with the scores of their competitions.

Coach Wilbur H. Flanagan, Charles H, Brown High School, Springhill, LA

Coach Wilbur Flanagan: The Tiger A tiger does not change its stripes, however, no one said a tiger never changes its colors. Coach Flanagan performed as a blue and white tiger at DeSoto High School, a black and gold tiger at Grambling State University and a blue and white tiger at Charles H. Brown High School. All of these tigers were fierce competitors and champions by their deeds. Regardless of their colors, the stripes remained and the legacy did not change. Finally, Grrrrr! Let’s listen to Coach Flanagan.

Jesse B. Bilberry, the Student, The Principal

Principal Jesse Bilberry was a student at Union Parish Training School who realized a very successful career as an administrator at Tensas Rosenwald High School. He idolized his father and followed in his footsteps as a principal. In a two-part interview series, Principal Bilberry discusses his life, his path toward molding the character and the intellect of young African Americans who became productive citizens of the United States. These former students regularly meet in various cities throughout the United States as alumni of Tensas Rosenwald High School. This proud tradition is exemplary of gratitude to a legendary figure in their lives, Principal Jessie Bilberry.

The Student
The Principal

McKinley High School, The Panther 1968

The Panther 1968

Forty years of progress after their initial year book, the McKinley Senior High School Panthers headlined, again. In the “Panther” 1968 edition, the Panthers’ prowess was demonstrated by their excellence in basketball as L. I. A. L. O. Champions in 1967. Together, the L.I.A.L.O. Championships in Track and Field and basketball resided in south Baton Rouge in 1967. A broad range of clubs was available for student involvement in school activities. Administrative, faculty and student pictures are available to summon memories of a prior era in McKinley’s existence. The “Big M” as they often refer to themselves was on the prowl.

1928

1928 was a remarkable year in African American high school history. Two of the earliest year books from the era, before 1970, are present on this website. The two schools representing this period with their historical documentation are McKinley High School, 1916, and McDonogh 35 High School, 1917. The Panther and the Roneagle will be part of our folklore far into the future.

additional information regarding these two institutions can be viewed on their pages.

McKinley High School

McDonogh 35 High School

McKinley Senior High School Museum Tour

The McKinley High School Alumni Center is a significant contribution to the past history of African American high school history and the present history of the African American high school experience. The staff of the Alumni Center was gracious in allowing the first video tour of The McKinley Senior High School Museum. These artifacts are emblematic of the times. Melvin Mitchell narrates a visit to the museum with a brief history of McKinley Senior High School. He tells of the importance of community involvement in recovery from a cataclysmic fire resulting in destruction of the school and the phoenix-like rebirth of one of the oldest school school buildings in African American high school history. The website presents: McKinley Senior High School Museum.

Weaponization of Education

Formal education is an essential element for active participation in society. When this instrument was denied or deprived by underfunding and was administered in unequal allotments to different groups, education became weaponized.

This website is a testament to the weaponization of education on a multicentury time scale. Prior to emancipation, there was a prohibition to teaching African Americans formal education. After emancipation the infrastructure for any social or educational achievement sporadically existed and the general attitude of the empowered was “Why should they be educated? What will they do with it?” Any effort to change agricultural/domestic platform was resisted. The religious denominations were quick to the charge of self-help. Education for the masses of African Americans, finally became acceptable at the turn of the twentieth century. Under the guise of equality, a separate but equal mantra with an eyewink was instituted. The public school system finally was embraced for the masses of African Americans but on an unequal footing.

The scheme of equality did not exist and a dual education system continued. A challenge to the equal access to education mounted, training schools flourished after the “Great Depression” until the mid-twentieth century. Approaching the mid-century a Topeka, Kansas, United States Supreme Court decision was greeted with a massive construction effort to feign equality. This effort was futile. Sixteen years later, deliberate action was realized so schools became united so there could be equal educational opportunities for all. Many issues exist today that prevent the equal distribution of education. Just as we see advancement in education today, we should also think, what would have happened if education had not been weaponized by denying a segment of the population equal access? What would have happened if education had not been weaponized?

Who Will Tell Our Story

Who Will Tell Our Story

Our stories, stories about African American High Schools in Louisiana, are similar, they are individually unique to where we live, the political, economic, geographic and social environment that engulfed us. Often, we could not control our destiny. We were passive bystanders with a narrative dictated by others.

Our story is one of resilience, of tenacity and in many instances of prayer to God and begging man for a change of heart in our educational aspirations. Patience with deliberate action resulted in an eventual triumph in our quests.

Generally, the template for education for African Americans was closely tied to the only social institution we had, the church. The initial secondary schools were all religious in origin. Rural areas trailed urban areas with primary and intermediate schools associated with churches. Public accommodation for education to African Americans began first in three major urban areas and spread to other less urban areas and finally to the rural areas.

Each school has its own story. We had little money and many struggles. Our struggles varied but nevertheless, our paths were obstructed. Should we tell our story, or should we rely on others who could not imagine what our existence encompassed to tell our story?

Our oral histories should be written. If we fail to write our story we will be relegated to myth and much of the narrative will be distorted in a way that is inconsistent with our reality.  Hence, we are the only ones who can and should tell our story and have it written into history.

We should not be ashamed, afraid or secretive about our origins. We were recipients of a boat with gaping holes in its bottom and we had to cross a river. It took courage, tenacity, perseverance and faith. We should harness these qualities and tell our story. This is the reason for the website, http://www.africanamericanhighschoolsinlouisianabefore1970.com . Many of our stories are written and we have many more stories to be written. We anxiously await the stories about schools whose histories were not recorded.

Schools Whose Cheers We Have Not Heard