Looking Back on the legacy of Carver High School
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The year is 1965; A segregated Carver High School welcomed students for the first time.
One of them was senior Brenda Guilford.
“We were so excited, and everybody wanted to look nice, and I’m just like everybody else, I wanted to look nice, so I had new clothing on,” Guilford, Class of ‘66 at Carver High School expresses. “That’s probably the main thing I remember about the very first day.”
It was the final chapter of her high school career.
Guilford continues, “It was a new school and so we had to find out where we go, and it was always exciting to know that this is somewhere that you are going to be able to place your feet.”
Though she was only at Carver High for her senior year, a core memory for her is working the concession stand.
“We would make the popcorn and bag it up and sell it,” Guilford shares. “It was really a lot of fun and my best friend worked there with me.”
All of Guilford’s school life was segregated; to her, it was normal.
Guildford explains, “During segregated schools, most of us were in the same neighborhood, so it was just interesting to know that we are there that people that we can trust and believe.”
1968 to 1969 was the last year Carver High School was occupied by all-black students.
“I did not graduate from Carver High School,” says Michael Jackson, Class of ‘71 at Dothan High School. “I was here in 1969 the year that Carver closed. We were a part of that controversial, ball of confusion time in Dothan. When we shut down Carver High School and showed up at Dothan High School and went through trust issues and just worried about the future issues when you look at it from our perspective.”
For Jackson, the sudden transition to integrate and change schools played a role in his school involvement.
“Here, I was active and involved with a lot of organizations,” Jackson explains. “It was very dynamic, and we were able to experience everything that we wanted to without necessarily running into being denied.”
Trying to navigate who he was as a Dothan High student.
“The early years at Dothan High School were transitional from the standpoint that we didn’t exactly do everything that our hearts may have desired to do,” expresses Jackson.
For Jackson, it was starting over and understanding his place in a completely new environment; Jackson says he learned from it.
“You can’t get always get what you want when you want it,” Jackson says. “You have to pay your dues, work hard, and even if you feel that you were denied something because it was a little unfair, you push through it, and you succeed despite the objections that you run into.”
Both Guilford and Jackson reminisce in the old hallways.
They’re proud of what a once segregated school has become today, Carver 9th Grade Academy.
“I feel like I started this school, back in 1966 as I graduated, and even though I left Dothan to go to school and also work, when I came back, there’s still Carver,” expresses Guilford. “It has undergone many changes and challenges and it still stands.”
“To continue to recognize his contribution and his worth is important to those of us who have attended Carver High School,” finishes Jackson. “It’s good that Carver still exists.”
Thankful that Dothan City Schools kept their history alive.
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