The initial interview was conducted via phone on 11/20/06 with Sheryl Row, Jesuit Archivist, and revised with Mr. Edmond’s additional comments sent via email on 7/22/11.

In the spring of 1955, while attending St. Peter’s Catholic School in the ninth grade, a nun who was also the principal approached me to recruit me to integrate Jesuit High School.  I believe that I was chosen because she observed me to be mild mannered, level headed and capable academically.  They were integrating the school for the first time.  I was interested mainly because I wanted to play in the band and I couldn’t afford an instrument.  Jesuit would let me use one of theirs.

After I agreed to attend Jesuit, this nun advised me to keep quiet, focus on academics, create no problems, avoid trouble, and avoid any situation that would create public scrutiny. I realized that I was to be the forerunner of an epic event in Dallas history, to be the first black to integrate a school.

I worried about how I would handle any problems with my integrating the school.  Fortunately I adjusted well and had no trouble with the students.

My life at Jesuit was good.  I did not knowingly receive any racial backlash from my classmates, parents, or teachers.  However, I did feel isolated because I had no contacts with my classmates after school hours.  I never attended social events or mother/son events at Jesuit.  I had one phone call from a student in my three years at Jesuit.  He called to ask for help in math.

My neighborhood was different culturally than the Jesuit environment. I lived in East Dallas, near Fair Park in a 100% African-American community in contrast with the wealthy Jesuit neighborhood.  In fact, very few people in my neighborhood knew that I was attending Jesuit so there was no backlash from my community.

In one sense that worked to my advantage because my neighborhood was dangerous because of the gangs, and I believe that attending Jesuit took me away from that environment a good part of the day.

I received an excellent education a Jesuit.  My best subjects were Latin, English, and Math.  My activities were the band and altar boy club.  I did not attempt to participate in athletics because sports were not integrated at that time.

My tuition was waived since I couldn’t afford it.  I did pay for lunch.  I took public transportation to school.  I caught the bus to downtown and transferred to Oak Lawn.  Some other students also caught the bus downtown.

Latin, math, and English were my best subjects.  I wanted to go to college, I would be the first in my family to do so, and I believed going to Jesuit would help me.  I had a poor academic background, but Jesuit helped me improve.  Being mild mannered and focusing only on academics worked to my advantage.

One moment that stands out while at Jesuit was a sign of the times.  I was on a trip with my classmates as part of the traditional retreat for seniors to Grand Coteau, LA.  I was not allowed to eat with my classmates but had to eat in the kitchen in the back.

I knew Arthur Allen ’59, who entered Jesuit as a freshman, because we both had attended St. Anthony’s church and elementary school.  However, we were a year apart and he was active in several activities, where, as I said, I was not.

During my senior year I received a partial scholarship to St. Edwards College in Texas but I declined to accept because of my family’s financial situation.

After graduation from Jesuit in 1958, I attended Grambling State University, graduating with a degree in mathematics, and I left Dallas for St. Louis.  I have worked for the last forty years as a secondary teacher of mathematics, activities director, athletic director, dean of students and retired as a high school assistant principal.

I have not returned to Jesuit at the old school on Oak Lawn nor the new school nor reunions not because I have not wanted to, but because of the isolation I felt while being the first.  I still, to this day, do not feel a kinship to the establishment or the classmates.

*As an aside I was the first African-American male teacher on staff at the University City High School, University City, MO.