|HISTORY AND OLD MEMORIES
Racial segregation created G.W. Carver High
By Terri Jo Ryan, Waco Tribune-Herald
Jan. 16, 2006
Even though the U.S. Supreme Court had deemed that “separate but equal” school facilities for black and white children were
unconstitutional in 1954 – in the case known as Brown v. Board of Education – Texas was slow to come around to the idea of
desegregation of public education.
The La Vega Independent School District opened the doors of George Washington Carver School on Sept. 5, 1956. Some 500
black children in grades one-12 were enrolled in the school.
By 1962, the number of students had more than doubled, to 1,200, so in 1963 the younger children were moved to another
building. The remaining grades, seventh through 12th, stayed at Carver.
Located at 1601 Dripping Springs Road, a street that would be renamed decades later after pioneering Carver principal J.J.
Flewellen, Carver High was one of only two black high schools in the area – the other being A.J. Moore in the neighboring
Waco Independent School District.
In their “separate but equal” school, the students had numerous social clubs, an award-winning band, a drill team,
cheerleaders, sports teams, debate teams and especially music to fill their days and nights when not cracking the books,
according to records and news clippings kept in the Texas Collection at Baylor University .
The 10th anniversary Panther yearbook was dedicated to the 10 “who laid the solid foundation” for the school's success.
Besides the principal, and head coach Ben A. Young, students lauded teachers Thurman E. Dorsey, Rhubert L. Ewing, Della C.
Mathis, Gertha M. Munson, Martha A. Renfro, Otis L. Rush, Thomas J. Washington and Fannie B. Watson.
That 1967 yearbook, the only one the Texas Collection has for the high school that operated for only 14 years, recalled a
banner year for the school's athletics. The football team won the District 2-AAA championship.
The Tribune-Herald in July 1967 noted the triumphant return of the award-winning Carver High Marching Band, which had
traveled to Montreal to take part in the World's Fair. Known as Expo '67, the fair hosted a marching band competition that
Carver's musicians won, garnering a $1,000 grand prize.
But the idyllic days of Carver High wouldn't last much longer. In the summer of 1970, after football practice had already begun
at Carver, students got word that their school would be closed immediately. They were to go to school with whites at La Vega
High School in Bellmead.
Later that first school year, black La Vega students walked out en masse from class because the school did not renew the
contract of a popular black coach, Clarence Chase. The students marched more than five miles back to Carver High School
as part of their protest.
The racial tensions at La Vega led the federal courts to negotiate a plan with Waco ISD to take in East Waco . The courts
agreed to place General Tire in WISD's tax base to provide extra funding for the 1,300 new East Waco students who were to
attend Waco schools in late summer 1971.
After the doors closed at Carver High in 1970, the building was left vacant for more than a year – a decision that would cost
the school districts dearly.
By the following summer, the Tribune-Herald recorded in a photo essay and story, the former “Pride of the Panthers” had
been vandalized to the tune of $100,000 in damages.
WISD, which had acquired the building when it took in East Waco , then offered it as community space to the nonprofit
operations Blue Triangle YMCA and the Inner City Ministries' Meals on Wheels program. Both programs invested in
renovations to the wings they occupied, until the district reclaimed the building in 1980 as a special education facility.
After WISD invested another $250,000 toward renovations, the old Carver High became Carver Sixth Grade Center in 1984, its
identity for almost a decade. In the fall of 1993, the school was dubbed Carver Academy , the magnet school for science and
|Posted 5-22-08 Rob Holbert
I can remember as a kid growing up in Carver Park, listening to the Carver High School Band practicing each warm
summer evening just a few weeks prior to the start of the school year. It was a highlight of the evening to hear the sounds
floating down to us from the school on the hill. Although I lived down the street from Carver, I didn't attend Carver or
Dripping Springs Elementary which fed into Carver. My Mom was a teacher in the Waco Independent School District so I
attended J.H.Hines and A.J.Moore High. I was always torn in my allegiance to those schools. All of my friends in the
neighborhood attended Carver and I shared in their pride for their school. However, J.H. Hines and Moore High had an
outstanding tradition as well and I was equally proud to be a part of those schools. And the competitive rivalry between the
two schools was fierce, but not in a negative way. Both schools recognized the proud heritage of all who attended either
school. It is a testament to the strength of our community that what was designed to be a negative impact turned out such
positive results. Let us never forget that.