Albert E. White: The case for restoring Lincoln High School


Published: Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 at 12:55 a.m.

On April 23-25, 2010, the Lincoln High School Alumni Association held its eighth biennial Grand Reunion for graduates of Lincoln High. After each reunion, I can count on receiving a few queries from those in attendance asking when we are going to work on getting our high school back.

However, this year the number of queries has grown from a few to many. I have been overwhelmed by e-mails and phone calls from graduates as far away as California asking this question.

Moreover, a recent article in The Sun about the Gainesville High School class of 1970 reunion served to fuel the flames to bring Lincoln back.

Our high school was closed in 1970 in the middle of the year in response to a federal mandate to desegregate all public schools. The decision here in Gainesville was swift and without compassion or consideration for the students, teachers, administrators, staff and more importantly, for the black community.

Lincoln High had served as the nucleus of our community since 1923 and to be snatched away suddenly and with so little regard for the impact of this action left a void unimaginable.

The high school reunions are filled with a spirit not unlike that of the days when Lincoln was in full operation. One would only have to attend one of these reunions to understand why we maintain such love and admiration for our former high school and would like to see it re-established.

I am often asked if Lincoln was as great as we make it appear to be, and the answer is a resounding yes. I characterize Lincoln as not having taught its students but as having educated them. By that, I mean we were taught more than just what was in our textbooks, which, by the way, were hand-me-downs. We were educated on life as well.

We also had support from all corners of our tight community through boosters clubs for all extracurricular activities and tremendous support from the PTA and other parent groups.

Then there were organizations like the Florida Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers. This group that organized in 1926 held its last convention at Lincoln High on Feb. 26-29, 1964. Black teachers, administrators and parents converged on Gainesville from all parts of Florida lodging in homes of local black residents.

This organization's creed espoused a belief in the American child, the home, school and church, and a belief that their duty reaches to the children of their state, nation and world. Their objectives were to promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, church and community, to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth, to bring into closer relation the home and the school, and to develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for every child the highest advantages in physical, mental, social and spiritual education. Many of the parents of students who attended Lincoln were members of this organization, as were many of Lincoln's administrators and teachers and local black clergy.

This group says it all about the kind of support we received while attending Lincoln. We may have received second-class books, athletic uniforms and materials, but our education was first class all the way.

So why all the fuss about converting Lincoln Middle School back to Lincoln High School? That begs the question as to why was Lincoln ever closed in the first place.

We're not naive in thinking that Lincoln will ever revert back to the way we remember it. What with zoning, busing, demographic shifts and population growth, that could never happen.

However, we strongly feel that some serious consideration should be given to the movement to restore Lincoln as a high school. We are aware of three high schools that have been restored in the state of Florida in recent years: Middleton and Blake High Schools in Tampa, and Lincoln High School in Tallahassee. In talking with the folks in Tampa, they indicated that it took a concerted and protracted effort and much perseverance.

They also credited cooperation from the School Board and school officials with helping to make this happen.

In a recent meeting with our school board superintendent, he indicated that he could support naming the next high school built in Gainesville Lincoln High School. That is certainly encouraging, and we will hold onto that thought as we move forward.

Elections are right around the corner, and there are several School Board seats up for grabs. We, the graduates of Lincoln High School, are hopeful that those vying for these seats will give thought and consideration to our quest to have our high school back. Our expectations of these candidates and the incumbents are that they will give this initiative serious thought. If the folks in Leon and Hillsborough counties can do it, so can we.

Albert E. White is president of Lincoln High School Alumni Association, Inc.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top