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.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the mass closure of the African American high schools in Louisiana. Prior to 1970 there were approximately one hundred eighty-five high schools throughout the state and their classification ranged from single A to triple AAA. Their affiliations extended through the various religious denominations in the beginning to the publicly funded schools near the termination of the era of the African American high school. All has not been lost since 1970. Approximately fifteen historically African American High Schools presently exist.
This year marks the third anniversary of AfricanAmericanHighSchoolsinLouisianaBefore1970.com. This website expanded from an idea to preserve the history of the LIALO to exceeding 30,000 pages of information that would otherwise be found at our local waste disposal sites. We are preserving this information which includes a wide array of sources and types: histories of school’s origin, mascots, alma maters, historical markers, coaches, yearbooks, class histories, newspaper articles, state department records, class roles for entire schools and published books.
A noteworthy effort,History of Central Colored High School, 1917 to 1949, the ten-year effort of Mrs. Gwendolyn Deloris Swinton, was placed on the site under the Central Colored High School banner. The book is a collection of information of this institution that paved the way for African American students in much of Caddo Parish and northwestern Louisiana corridor for thirty years. The time of its existence was short-lived, however, the Phoenix, Booker T. Washington High School rose from the ashes. The old Central Colored High School building stands today as a testament to its legacy. Mrs. Swinton’s book documents how education for the African American high school student was meant to be. There was a dedicated and well-educated faculty and a hungry community striving to succeed in life. The graduates subsequently dispersed throughout the world proud to be from the school and became aspirational leaders in the world community. The youngest graduates are now older than eighty-eight years old and only a few are alive today. We must not forget their experiences and their contributions to our existence. Interestingly, after another twenty years the youngest graduates of an African American high school from the era before 1970 will be eighty-eight years old. There will be few of us alive at this time in the future and we, too, desire to be remembered.
Interestingly, Southern University provided the inspiration for competition for African American High Schools in the state. The Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Association (LIALO, LIALA) was established in 1928 to bridge the gap for African American students in secondary schools so their success could be realized. The Significant Notes, History Section on this website contains a Southern University Digest publication, March 9, 1965, Number 11. A detailed history of Southern University can be found.
Louisiana Parishes and School Boards have had to deal with school desegregation cases since 1952, when John Hall submitted a case against the St. Helena Parish School board. This case was finally closed this past March 2018, when St. Helena Parish School board achieved its “unitary status”. We have a “Parish Desegregation Status Matrix” from Tulane University’s Cowen Institute For Public Education Initiatives which shows the status of the cases in August 2010. We also have information on a few parishes who have achieved the goal of “unitary status” since the Matrix was built. The court cases are the beginning of the end for most of the African American High Schools in Louisiana. The desegregation case section can be found in the HISTORY section of the SIGNIFICANT NOTES.