We are in February and I received an invitation the other day. Because of the invitation, the number 50 holds particular significance for me, especially this month. The invitation was for the 50-year reunion of the Gainesville High School Class of 1967 to be held this May.
That invitation brought to mind the May 16, 2004, edition of The Times. The front page headline read, “50 years ago, Supreme Court sought to make schools equal but not separate.” A good portion of the A section of the paper focused on the impact of the May 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, on the Gainesville school system.
The main article pinpointed 1969 as the year of integration for the school system. Here in February, I write to point out that while 1969 was the year the segregated educational system in Gainesville was abolished once and for all, for the sake of historical accuracy 1965 was the year of desegregation for the system.
The aforementioned article went on to discuss the initial anxieties the students from E.E. Butler High experienced upon arrival at Gainesville High in 1969. No doubt this had real psychological impact for many of that entire student body coming from Butler. But that was a whole school, many in number. Yet in 1965, we were a mere handful, so imagine our initial angst.
Fifty years ago, a historic event occurred in the city in which I was born, the “poultry capital of the world.” Revis Blakeney handed out diplomas to the first three black students to graduate from Gainesville High: Connie Jones, Brenda Traywick and me. Those years have flown by fast. A tip of the hat goes to Connie and Brenda (by the way, Brenda was chosen by Richard Chamberlain of “Dr. Kildare” fame as one of the class beauties. My, such murmuring around the hallways of the school at the time).
While we’ve been separated by 50 years, I hope they are doing well, especially this February, Black History Month.
Judge Michael E. Hancock
Homer, Gainesville High Class of 1967