NewsBlack History Month


'It was a family school': Before the middle school, G.W. Carver HS served as an area school for Black students

G.W. Carver High School alumni reminisce on the 1st-12th grade experience before it was closed due to integration in the 1970s.
Posted: 11:01 AM, Mar 07, 2024
Updated: 2024-03-07 12:01:54-05

WACO, Texas — G.W. Carver Middle School is a new building today but its history is built on a segregated past. G.W. Carver High School opened its doors in 1956 but closed in the early 70s due to integration. Some of the alumni still cherish that sense of community pride and culture.

G.W. Carver class

Those graduates are actively involved in the G.W. Carver High School Alumni Association. They meet up to plan reunions, events, gather memorabilia and sometimes they flip through old yearbooks. Those black and white photos tell stories of a time much different from today.

G.W. Carver Chemistry Club
G.W. Carver Physics Club

“A lot of people didn't know that Carver was a high school," Betty Stewart, Class of 1971 explained. "It was back when I started, it was A first through 12th grade school. It was a family school."

Watch Benjamin Hughes talk about G.W. Carver High School's "glory days"

In 1970, the doors to the high school closed. Stewart and her fellow classmates were crushed by the news.

"Television, newspaper said that Carver would be shut down," Stewart said.
"We would be bussed to LA Vega High School. It was very crushing to our class because we had been together 11 years. For the transition that we had to go through, some just quit and got their GED later."

This integration period also sparked student-led walkouts.

"It was me and another young lady, we wouldn't walk out because we were afraid that if we did," Stewart said. They would hold that against us and would not be able to graduate."

G.W. Carver

Students were not the only ones heavily impacted by integration. Alumna Charlene Lewis was hoping to return to Carver HS to teach mathematics.

"The principal called me in and he said, 'La Vega has decided to integrate," Charlene Lewis, Class of 1957. "Since you were the last one hired, you will go to a white elementary school.' I cried, no other black person was on campus but me. I was there seven years before another black person came on campus."

Delano Naylor was a part of the last official class to graduate carver before it closed. Leading up to his senior year, he participated in integrated focus groups at Baylor University.

"We had a program at Baylor University, that was called Upward Bound," Delano Naylor, Class of 1970 explained. "It kind of broke the ice in terms of what life would be like in an integrated society. One of the things that I remember from just having open talk was that most of the black kids said 'I could take you home and meet my family.' There were no white kids that said we could go to their house. Zero!"

Watch Roy Williams talk about feeling like 'second class citizens' at La Vega
G.W. Carver

More than 60 years later, the G.W. Carver High School Alumni Association is hoping that ALL of the school's history will be shared and never forgotten.

"I'm glad to say that I was there when Mr. Lee came and got the band together," Benjamin Hughes, Class of 1968. "When Doris Day came and got the choir together. We had a good basketball and football coaches we excelled at everything. I mean, it’s bragging but it’s fact!”

After Carver High School closed its doors in 1970, it was later reclaimed before a fire damaged the building in 2021.