Angelina College Caps Two-Day Event Honoring Dunbar’s Legacy
In a way, the events could have been classified as class reunions, but for those in attendance, everything felt more like a family reunion.
As part of its Black History Month celebrations, Angelina College on Friday and Saturday hosted “Honoring Dunbar: Remember Brilliance,” a two-night event at the AC Convention Center highlighting the legacy of Dunbar High School and the entire Dunbar community.
The two nights featured guest speakers, musical guests and special presentations. However, the focus was on the alumni present: Those former Tigers themselves, along with their families.
Friday’s banquet featured master of ceremonies Olivia Adams Wilson, a welcome from AC president Dr. Michael Simon, an invocation the Reverend David Avant, a musical performance from Tina Webber and guest speakers Dr. Daniel Spikes and Winifred Ferguson Adams.
Spikes related how his own success story as a student and educator related directly to the efforts of those educators at Dunbar, who paved the way for excellence despite the challenges of segregation and discrimination.
Adams, the Dean of Health Careers at AC, shared her experiences as a Dunbar Tiger and how the “standards of excellence” established by those parents, educators and community members helped propel so many from the school into the paths of excellence.
Saturday’s events began next door to the Convention Center at Shands Gymnasium, with the Lady Roadrunners and Roadrunners each hosting their home finales. At halftime of the Lady ‘Runner game, AC recognized Johnnie Ross, a community leader and another Dunbar alumnus. The national champion Lufkin Junior Panther Cheer team performed at half time of each game.
Saturday’s banquet featured master of ceremony and Dunbar alumnus Brenda Anderson Tankersley, the welcome from Dr. Simon, an invocation from Bishop Oscar Dixon, Sr. and a musical performance from Adrianne Collins.
Speakers included Jonathan Kegler, who spoke of “sticking to the script” when it comes to pursuing excellence.
“While we must remember the legacy of Dunbar, we must never forget the struggles of Dunbar,” Kegler said. “Every time they got turned away they kept coming back.
“It’s written in the history books, and all we have to open our eyes and look around us, listen to those who have gone before us. Black History month speaks of yesterday. It’s up to us to start something new today.”
Sellestine Hunt, a Dunbar alumnus, was the final speaker of the event, offering a presentation titled, “Four Ways Dunbar Created an Environment of Brilliance.” Those ways included Parental Involvement, Teacher Cultural Competency, Student Centered and Reverence for God.
“The environment our parents and teachers created for us had everything to do with each of us being able to find our own paths in life,” Hunt said. “Everyone – from our school to our
homes to our church to our community – was invested in our success, and I believe the history shows just how remarkable all those people were in their dreams for us.”
Also present was Lufkin High School student Lilly Langston, whose recent University Interscholastic League (UIL) project was a video montage of interviews with Dunbar alumni. Langston, along with her teacher Caleb Beames, were on-hand to show the video, titled “Immortal Tigers.”
“I thought I was just doing something on Dunbar sports, since I’d heard so much about their football and other sports teams,” Langston told the crowd. “But before long I realized there was so much more to the Dunbar story, and I wanted to tell what I could in this project.”
Finally, Oscar Kennedy (another Dunbar alumnus and former Tiger football player) coaxed some of the former Tiger athletes on stage to perform an impromptu version of “Over My Head I Hear Music” – a song the players performed for the crowd after every Dunbar football game.
AC’s Randy McKelvey, who dreamed up the event way back in the fall, closed out the ceremony, thanking the AC staff members involved in both the planning and execution of the event.
“We don’t want this to stop here,” McKelvey said. “We want this to become an annual event reaching all the way through our community.
“This story has a lot more to tell.