TYLER, Texas (KETK)- It’s Black History month and we want to honor history here in East Texas.
We caught up with some alumni from Emmett J. Scott high school in Tyler, going back in time to talk about their dominance in athletics.
Emmett J. Scott high school, home of the Bulldogs, opened in 1918 to educate the black students in Tyler and even further out like Chandler due to segregation.
“That’s the only thing we knew and at that time Emmett Scott we thought we were the best thing going so far as black students was concerned,” said Jesse Rider, class of 1955.
Rider said the teachers and staff instilled the confidence to be the best you can be at whatever you do, and that carried over into all aspects of life.
“It made us think and instilled in us and told us that we were the best and if people keep driving something into your head over and over then after awhile you believe that’s it and we actually thought we were the best,” declares Rider.
With that belief and confidence, the Bulldogs football, basketball and track teams were one of a kind and were extremely successful, and that rang true on the track for Rider.
“I won several first place trophies at Emmett Scott and we went to Prairie View every year and ran and I ran second place in the state of Texas for the 220 yard dash,” adds Rider.
Along with the success of the athletic programs, the Bulldog band laid the foundation of excellence for the Emmett J. Scott student body.
“It was thrilling because we knew we were good and the state knew that we were good so it was fun, a lot of fun,” smiles drum major from the class of 1955, Marva Griffith Wallace.
“Emmett Scott held it for the longest coming in first place all those years. We had more wins than anyone put together,” exclaims band member from, class of 1965, Janice Johnson Lindsey.
With the school excelling in all different avenues, Rider recalls the white students from other schools came to observe their Bulldog pride.
“Because we were successful and we were known throughout the state and they wanted to know what made us tick and so they would come on and what we called spy on us just to find out what we were doing. So they can pick up on some of the ideas and take it back to their school,” laughs Rider.
Fast forward to today, these alumni are glad to see the students be able to compete on the national stage and go to whatever school that want to.
“It makes me feel great, it really does because I just want to see y’all do better than we did. Advance,” smiles Marva.
“It was in the making and it did come to pass but so far we were proud of that because of where we come from and we had to overcome a lot of adversity and to be able to overcome that adversity and to live in a society that we can see this stuff to pass into fruition makes us feel good,” tells Rider.
The remaining proud alumni of Emmett J. Scott hope their Bulldog history will stay alive for future generations.