Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Lincoln Memorial truly taught

This week has brought something truly remarkable to the city of Palmetto and our community: the Lincoln Memorial High School Grand Reunion, marking the 40th anniversary of its last year in our community.

It officially began Wednesday, with a symbolic walk through "the Tunnel," the chute under U.S. 41 through which coach Eddie Shannon’s Lincoln Trojans charged into history, as Vin Mannix wrote in today's Bradenton Herald. At a time when racism was accepted, the black community remained united and firm in faith, with Lincoln Memorial its centrifical force.

Hundreds of alumni are joining the festivities this week, which include pep rallies, social gatherings, fish fry, banquet and dance, church service and the debut of a documentary filmed by Manatee Educational Television.

The planning and reminiscing started months ago, much of it captured in our expanded Sunday coverage led by Ryan Boyd. Although he is far too young to have first-hand knowledge of Lincoln Memorial, Ryan grew up in Palmetto and was teethed on its legends. He captured much of that in this feature and in his column , as did Vin in his Sunday column.

But I received a poignant e-mail yesterday from a Class of '61 alum, and we're taking her message to heart. A relative had sent Vanzetta Goff Evans links to our Sunday package, knowing she wasn't going to make the reunion from her home in Stone Mountain, Ga. Here is the crux of Vanzetta's e-mail:

Although sports were a major part of Lincoln, and discipline played a role in all of the schools that I attended in Manatee County, the most important and positive piece of the legacy of Lincoln Memorial High School was not mentioned (my opinion). The missing piece is the education of students at LincMeHi. It would be wonderful to read of the accomplishments of Lincoln Memorial graduates in business, education, government, etc. All was not perfect education wise; however, many graduates went on to achieve on many levels and not all as a result of higher education. I can think of a few professions of Lincoln Memorial graduates: teachers, professors, engineers, registered and practical nurses, physicians, dentists, lawyers and on and on. This is what should be celebrated!!!! AND, let's not forget about the Lincoln Memorial High School Band under the direction of Norman Middleton (during my time there)!!!!!

After I graduated from Lincoln Memorial I attended Florida A&M University for one year; segregation was still a factor. I later moved to Rochester, NY and now have a Bachelor of Science degree, nursing as major from the University of Rochester and a Master of Management degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts; both well-respected educational institutions. My major career positions were in public health and home health where I progressed to a management level. I was also a nursing faculty member at several colleges in the Rochester area and in Massachusetts. That is a long way for a young black woman from Rubonia, whose aunt (R.C. Washington) drove her to kindergarten at Memorial Elementary School because Rubonia Elementary did not have kindergarten. Rubonia Elementary and Lincoln Memorial teachers taught academics as well as social graces, diplomacy, and other areas not normally learned at educational institutions; Florida A&M taught the same as well.

So please, speak with graduates of Lincoln Memorial to find out what they are doing today and how they have made positive contributions to the county, country and the world; and of course, write about them.

We will.

-- Joan

Lincoln High School alumni walked through the tunnel Wednesday, singing the school alma mater.


Anonymous said...

I was a student at lincoln memorial high school nobody might remember me but i was there i went to the elem. school and the high scool went i left there i went to palmetto high and then manatee high but i did'n stay long but lincoln was a good school

S Eady said...

I attend lincoln memorial high and that was a good school and i will always remember it because the teachers there taught us a lot I remember my elementary pincipial Mrs Brown and my math teacher Mr. Smith those were the day that teacher taught the students

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Evans. The antebellum stereotype is perpetuated of Blacks being strong athletic brutes with little intellect by solely highlighting sports. Also, very little or nothing was mentioned regarding the vicious racism in Manatee County and particularly the school system. Surely you remember the notorious Sheriff Roy Baden of the KKK. This white supremacist regime should never be ignored or overlooked in any discussion of Lincoln, Bradenton Elementary, Booker or any black school in the segregated south. Most white students and teachers are totally oblivious to the injustices, sufferings and oppressions of blacks in Manatee County, or the nation for that matter. When I visit, I notice little has changed in terms of the sharing of power. Nevertheless, I sincerely appreciated your column of the old plantation school.