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.
Photo by GRANT JEFFERIESfirstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln High School alumni walked through the tunnel Wednesday, singing the school alma mater.