Juneteenth 1865-2021


Well-Known Member
Nice short documentary that apparently aired in Houston about Juneteenth's Galveston roots, Houston's 3rd, 4th, and 5th wards,PV, Tsu

View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GdkVKgelxVs
Missed it locally on the news station so I'm happy you brought it to our attention.

Very succinct, compact, and illustrated well. Really enjoyed it. Makes me feel even worse because while in HS, I was programmed to stomp the living hell out of Yates and other HISD schools unmercifully academically and athletically. Wish I could return in time. :(


Texas Southern University
Nice short documentary that apparently aired in Houston about Juneteenth's Galveston roots, Houston's 3rd, 4th, and 5th wards,PV, Tsu

View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GdkVKgelxVs
Jack Yates was not the first Black high school in Houston. Booker T Washington was 1893- present. Jack Yates came along in 1927. Booker T was initially name Colored High School. When Yates was opened they changed the name of Booker T to Booker T Washington Colored High School and Jack Yates was named Jack Yates Colored High School. What I find disturbing is Independence Heights is left out of this documentary. Independence Heights was the FIRST Black incorporated city in Texas.

History of Colored High School/Booker T. Washington High School

1893 - 1965

Built in 1893, the Colored High School was the first high school built to educate the African-American children of Houston. At a cost of $30,150.00, this three-story, ten-room structure with a bell tower was built by Architect J.A. Tempest, on San Felipe Street in the Fourth Ward. Fourth Ward was home to the largest Black population in the city and therefore was the logical area to build a high school for Blacks. After it was occupied in 1893, Charles H. Atherton became the first principal and he continued in that position until 1912. During that first term for Colored High School, Atherton was accompanied by his assistant principal, J. H. Crawford and nine other instructors. J. D. Ryan, who would succeed Atherton as principal, was among those first instructors. English, Latin mathematics, science and history on a high school level were among the first courses taught at Colored High School. By 1896, Wright Munger had completed the necessary courses to become Colored High’s first graduate.

As Jamaican-born Charles H. Atherton, a graduate of Mica College in Jamaica, ushered Colored High School into the twentieth century, he also was among several educators and Black city elites that promoted the idea of Houston’s first “colored library.” Spearheaded by educator E. O. Smith, HISD’s Superintendent Horn was persuaded to use available space at Colored High for the headquarters of the Carnegie Library Association the first library for Blacks in the south. Bessie Osborne, a 1902 Colored High School graduate, was hired as librarian of the Colored Carnegie Library in 1911.

All of the Atherton family members were educators. Daughters Alma and Mamie and his wife Alma E. taught at Colored High School. Thelma Scott Bryant, wife of Dr. Ira B. Bryant who authored “The Development Houston Negro Schools,” remembers both of the Atherton daughters. Even though she was fortunate enough to have five cents to catch the streetcar to school, Thelma remembered that others had to walk the long distance to get an education. Dr. Bryant and his wife both graduated from the school in the 1920s and are thus among its many graduates. Dr. Bryant later became principal of the school from1938-1957.

The present day Texas Southern University has its roots on the campus of Booker T. Washing High School. This too, maybe a first, at least in the overall knowledge that Texas Southern is the only fully accredited university established for African Americans in Houston and it was originally housed in the only high school for Blacks. In 1925, the Wiley College Extension Branch was located in the facility for one year. Professor J. T. Fox of Dallas was instrumental in shaping this event along with the support of the Houston school board. Growth of the branch required it to move to the Jack Yates High school on Elgin Street. Political pressure from the Black community to offer college level courses to potential teachers in the Houston area gave impetus to the school board to change the name of the branch to Houston Junior College for Negroes and later became Houston College for Negroes. A combination of events, growth in student enrollment, continued political pressure and an impending law created an environment for a fully accredited university. In 1947 Texas State University for Negroes later Texas Southern University, was formed from its antecedent Houston College for Negroes.

For Colored High School, 1925 proved to be the start of a very busy era. By 1925, the African-American population had grown in Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards. Jack Yates High School was established in Third Ward in 1926, and Phyllis Wheatley High School was established in Fifth Ward in 1927.

Additionally, Colored High School was due for a makeover as the facility was in need of repair and the student population had grown significantly. A total of $4,000,000.00 was spent on both white and Black schools, of which a portion was approved for the upgrade of Colored High. Following the 1927 rehabilitation and expansion, the school had thirty-two classrooms, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and two fireproof vocational shops.

With planning underway for Yates and Wheatley High schools in 1925, a conversation began between the city power brokers and the community concerning the renaming of Colored High School. A number of names were bandied about, including James D. Ryan, then principal of Colored High School, and later principal of Yates High School. Ultimately Booker T. Washington Elementary in first Ward was renamed for Alderman Richard Brock, and in 1927-28, the newly renovated and expanded Colored High School was renamed Booker T. Washington Colored High School, honoring the founder of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Mr. William E. Miller, the new principal of Booker T. Washington (1926-1938), found the need to develop the school’s new identity through symbols. English teacher Miss Virginia B. Miller selected “Wisdom” as part of the school’s motto. Mrs. Marjorie Teal, physical education teacher, and Mrs. Freddie Lights Kemp, math teacher, selected the school colors of “Royal Blue and Gold.” Royal Blue represents dignity, stateliness and loyalty. Gold represents something of great value or goodness.

The “Golden Eagle” was chosen as the school’s mascot because it is the mightiest, most powerful and sharp-sighted bird to soar through the air.

Mrs. Mary E. B. Isaacs English teacher and accomplished poet and orator wrote the school song with music arranged by Mr. J. Will Jones, the music supervisor of all the Black schools at the time, furnished the rollicking rhythmic musical setting. These words still linger in the memories of all Washington students:

“Just like a Mighty Eagle flying. Towering o’er his fellows’ flight. So, will we too, thy sons and daughters, Soar o’er wrong to fields of right.”

Miller remained at Washington until June 1938 when he was promoted to supervisor over the entire Colored Public Education System of Houston. In replacing Mr. Miller it seemed altogether fitting and proper that a product of B.T. Washington, would be named principal, hence Ira Babington Bryant was selected. Mr. Bryant took over as principalship of B. T. Washington, in 1938.

Dr. Bryant was a native of Crockett, Texas, with his family moving to Houston in 1920. At the time of his assignment he held the Bachelor’s Degree from Fisk University and the Master’s Degree from the University of Kansas. During his principalship at Washington, he received the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Bryant’s outstanding work in the field of education led to his being elected to Executive Committee of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools for Negroes. Under his administration a number of vocational courses were added to the curriculum, such as Boy’s Commercial Cooking, Beauty Culture, Radio Technology, Shorthand, Typing, Landscape Gardening, Horticulture and Home Nursing. He revived the Washington Night School to give adults an opportunity to secure an education. Many times his personal funds were used to keep it open.

In 1957, he was given the option of remaining at Washington for the building of the new school or going to Kashmere Garden High School as first principal. He chose the latter.

In 1957, Arthur L. Huckaby succeeded Bryant as principal of B. T. Washington High School. He served two years at the original site, and under his administration the school was relocated in 1959 to 119 E. 39th Street and Yale Street. This new building was erected in the historic Independence Heights, which was the first Black incorporated city in Texas, 1915-1928, and annexed to Houston in 1929. Mr. Huckaby was principal of Booker T. Washington from 1957 to the spring of 1965.