NFL star Kenny Houston to speak at Dunbar Hall of Fame ceremonies
Polk County Enterprise, October 2007
LIVINGSTON – Livingston Dunbar Sports Hall of Fame will hold its 10th annual banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Dunbar gym with guest speaker Kenneth Ray Houston, former Dunbar alumnus and National Football League Hall of Famer.
Thirteen years ago, Elgin Davis gave the first Dunbar Memorial award for Best Athlete from Livingston, said Johnny Walker, one of the event’s coordinators.
Afterwards, folks began talking about how many great athletes had attended Dunbar High School, especially during the 1950s and 1960s when the football team made it to the quarter semi-finals or semi-finals every year, got to the state championship five times and won the state championship three times — in 1953, 1954 and 1958.
Because of racial segregation and the prevailing attitudes in those days, they never received any formal recognition during their school careers.
A banquet for Dunbar alumni seemed like the perfect way to honor the men and women whose athletic prowess had gone mostly unnoticed.
The idea for an annual banquet was advanced when coordinators realized there were just too many great athletes from Dunbar to recognize them all in one year.
The first banquet was held in July 1998 and was attended by more than 300 people. The temperature in the gym that July was so hot that it was unanimously decided that future banquets would be held in cooler weather and the event was moved to the last Saturday in October.
Since that first year the banquet has never been attended by less than 200 people - and that was the year it rained.
Attendees and honorees come back “home” to Dunbar from around the country every year to honor one another and remember a time when they were young and they did great things.
This year’s guest speaker, Kenneth Ray Houston, was born in Lufkin and raised in Livingston. Houston graduated from Dunbar High School and attended Prairieview A & M on scholarship, graduating in . Houston was an American football defensive back in the NFL for 14 years. He played for the American Football League Houston Oilers from 1967 through 1969, and after the AFL-NFL merger, with the Oilers from 1970 through 1972, then with the Washington Redskins until 1980.
He was an all-league player for 12 consecutive years: an American Football League All-Star in 1968 and 1969, and then in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl from 1970 through 1979. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, elected in 1986. He was selected All-Pro 3 times. In 1999, he was ranked number 61 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Throughout his career, Houston intercepted 49 passes, recovered 21 fumbles, gained 1,498 return yards(on interception, fumble, blocked field goal, kickoff, and punt returns), and scored 12 touchdowns. In 1971 he set an NFL record with 5 touchdown returns (four interceptions and one fumble). This would stand until surpassed by Devin Hester’s six return touchdowns in the 2006 season.
The entire community is welcome to attend. A barbecue dinner with all the extras will be served and is included in the $10 admission price.