Fred Douglass historical marker unveiled

by Michelle Dillon

Graduates of Fred Douglass High School in Jacksonville came from as far away as California to attend the 17th Fred Douglass alumni biennial reunion and had the honor of seeing an historical marker for the Fred Douglass High School unveiled on the property where the former school once stood.

Preceding the ceremonial unveiling was the Dragon Parade, held in conjunction with the reunion. The parade featured current Jacksonville city council member Hubert Robinson; Miss Fred Douglass of 1964 and 1969, Sue Barner and Oscar Faye Branch Williams respectively; a float with several alumni and an array of corvettes driven by members of the Shriners of Aqaba Temple in Tyler.

The parade route ended at the site where the Fred Douglass High School had been located, property that had been deeded to the Fred Douglass Alumni Association by the Jacksonville Independent School District.

Among those present for the dedication of the historical marker was Margene Williams of the class of 1952, who stated she was among the earliest class represented at the event. Miss Fred Douglass 1964 Sue Barner arrived from California to attend the reunion.

Tracy Wallace, former principal at Fred Douglass Elementary, welcomed those gathered and then outlined the program for the day.

Donzell Brown, class of 1970 member and treasurer for the Fred Douglass Alumni Association (FDAA) gave the invocation.

Among those who offered remarks was Robinson, member of the class of 1965.

“I’m so honored to have the opportunity to be here to see this,” Robinson stated. “It’s happened because of your dedication, your commitment, your love for the city and your love for Fred Douglass.”

Robinson also read a message from the city manager and other council members welcoming the FDAA to the city and wishing the alumni an enjoyable weekend during the reunion.

Mayor Randy Gorham addressed the crowd, relating a personal memory and reading a proclamation, which stated in part, “Whereas, the city council of the city of Jacksonville desires to recognize and acknowledge those former alumni who still reside in Jacksonville and those who return to the city of their graduation…I, Randy Gorham, mayor of the city of Jacksonville and Councilman Hubert Robinson do hereby honor and pay tribute to the Fred Douglass Alumni that are represented at this reunion and on behalf of the city of Jacksonville wish all who attend the best in all future endeavors.”

Alumni members recalled life at the high school through the various decades of its existence before the official unveiling of the marker.

The historical marker recognizing the Fred Douglass School joins the memorial to Fred Douglass High School principals M.B. Davis, 1923-1956; and H.V. Jones, 1956-1970; as well as the flagpole erected during the 16th biennial reunion.