"Original" Lincoln High alums invited to celebrate school's history

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 3, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) -- Alums of Tallahassee's original Lincoln High School are gathering later this week to celebrate the school's 100-year history.

Lincoln High is now known as the Trojans, sporting the team colors of green and gold. "Back in the day," Lincoln High proudly donned blue and white and called themselves the Fighting Tigers.

A group of alumni is gathering Friday to celebrate the "original" Lincoln High - a school educating African Americans in the era of segregation.

"A lot of times they don't even realize there was another Lincoln," said Jim Bellamy, from the Class of 1964.

The original Lincoln opened its doors after the civil war and closed them 100 years later. In the years in between, the school on Brevard Street served as the only school in Tallahassee open to African Americans.

"Lincoln was all we had. Lincoln was it as far as school, getting together with your friends. It was just a way of life for us," said Willie Ellis, Class of 1968.

These proud alums gather to celebrate that history once a year.

"Ain't nobody but me," said Sam Graham, from the Class of 1962. "I was the only kid and I only lived about three blocks from here. My classmates, I always said, was my sisters and brothers."

The men remember the school serving as the heartbeat of the black community.

"That was everybody's feeling," said Mack Rush, with the Class of 1965. "Lincoln was a very special place."

Inside the school is a mini-museum called the "Lincoln Room." It boasts May Day gowns, football jerseys, yearbooks and plenty of photos.

Willie Floyd was surprised to find an old school newspaper with his picture on it.

"That's you?" someone asked.

Floyd serves as principal. "Yeah that's me," he said with a laugh. "A long time ago."

Most of the men WCTV spoke with graduated in the 60s, just before integration.

"So, you've been roaming these halls for a very long time?" another person asked.

"I've been going around a long time, a long time," Sam Graham said.

The Lincoln they remember featured loving educators with high expectations for those learning a craft or launching a career.

"All of us clowns graduated and went on to do some good things in life because they taught us the basic academic things we needed to know and how to act," said Willie Floyd, with the Class of 1966. "Because wherever you went you had to represent this school."

"This is the previous facade of Lincoln," Mack Rush said as he pointed to a black and white photo.

"So, this is what it looked like when you went here?"

"Yes."

The school looks a little different now. The city transformed it into the Lincoln Neighborhood Center in 1973. For alums, the historic marker out front is a reminder of the value of education and lifelong friendships.

"It's a part of my life, well, that will be with me forever," Willie Ellis said as he walked down the hall by the old cafeteria.

The Fighting Tigers Varsity "L" Club is hosting its annual luncheon at noon on Friday, October 5. It's inviting all alums to join them in the old Lincoln High gymnasium located at 438 West Brevard Street in Tallahassee.



 
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