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Stories Added - March 2009
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Historical marker placed at Dunbar
Polk County Enterprise - March 2009
LIVINGSTON — The Committee to Save Dunbar held a historical marker dedication ceremony at the school’s campus Saturday. Former students and Mayor Clarke Evans joined in honoring the school’s role in developing students into successful citizens. Committee members outlined the school’s history in a program distributed at the dedication. Dunbar High School began in 1936 and was originally known as Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School. Dunbar was built on a 10- acre tract of land purchased in 1935 from Dr. B.C. Marsh. The school contained eight classrooms, a library, principal’s offi ce, auditorium and book room. Through the years, Dunbar High School was led by a group of exceptional educators. Professor W.W. Johnson was the fi rst to lead Dunbar. The school continued to fl ourish under the guidance of Professor M. C. Barlow (1942), Professor E. Robinson and Mrs. Erma Robinson (1945), and Professor J. W. Ratcliff (1955). During this period, Dunbar hired more teachers who held degrees from accredited colleges to meet the needs of a growing student body. In 1945 the school’s interior burned and was eventually rebuilt with a lunchroom/activity room addition. While the school was being rebuilt, classes continued at various churches throughout the city. Dunbar High School was accredited by the State Department of Education in 1946. Dunbar grew to accommodate more students and built a new primary school in 1953- 1954. During that period Dunbar athletic teams earned some major achievements. The Dunbar Leopards won state championships in football and basketball. From 1940 to 1968 Dunbar competed in the Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) — fi rst called the Interscholastic League of Colored Schools — until Texas public schools were desegregated between 1965 and 1968 and the PVIL was absorbed into UIL. In 1953 Dunbar’s varsity football team won the state championship with a victory over West Columbia Brown. The score is not recorded in UIL records. The Leopards repeated their success in the 1954 season, winning the state championship with a 25 to 20 victory over College Station Lincoln. Their third state championship came in 1958 with a 26-24 win over Grand Prairie Dal-Worth and they held the cochampionship title in 1959. The Leopards were also District VI Champions in Class A Basketball. The student body achieved academic success as well. Dunbar fostered an environment that prepared graduates for college. In 1955 eighth-graders published the fi rst school newspaper and formed the fi rst student council. In 1968, Dunbar closed and students integrated into Livingston Independent School District. Dunbar’s contribution to this community will never be forgotten. It will be remembered for the students it encouraged to reach their goals. The spirit of Dunbar lives in the children and grandchildren of the teachers and students who gained so much from this remarkable institution. Participants in Saturday’s ceremony include Rev. Otis Bennett, Mayor Clarke Evans, Col. Howard Daniels, Dr. Alma Allen, John Earl Gardner, Willie Edward Parker. Clara Ann Pickens Wiley, Betty Jo King, Kevin Glenn, Elgin Davis, Pastor Kenneth Darden and John E. Gardner also participated in the program.