Earlier this month, I had the great honor and pleasure to attended Glenn’s 50th Hickman High School class reunion in Columbia, Missouri. It was such a gift to see harmony, right before my eyes, between Blacks and Whites, in spite of a past dotted with uncertainty. A class full with people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, dentists, a senator, business owners, CEOs, and others who just made the best of life, raising kids, some still living locally, and some retired.
In the era following Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), students in Columbia, a small mid-Missouri town, braced for integration. Over the years, I have listened intently to lucid experiences shared by Glenn, whom at this point in history, was a young Black kid, with two brothers – ten and twelve years older than he. To hear the stories from his perspective shed a softer light on what could have been a more oppressive time, for some.
The three-day reunion kicked off day-one at Shakespeare’s Pizza; continued day-two at Hickman, where they planted a tree, toured the school and had a light lunch; and later a tailgate party at Cosmo Park, and concluding day-three at a ballroom in The Hampton Inn. I guess I was a teeny bit jealous because my High School class has had only one reunion, and that was in 1990, at my tenth. Hickman’s Class of 1967 have a reunion every five years.
At Cosmo Park, organizers set up a big screen to watch a their legendary 1966 football game where Hickman ended Jeff City’s 71-game winning streak. Football was and still is really big in this town, also the home of the University of Missouri Mizzou Tigers.
With a new tree planted, the tour of Hickman High began, and it was impressive for this first-time-visitor. The entry hall was lined with plaques and trophy cases, honoring alumnae. The late Major James E. Logan, Glenn’s oldest brother, was named on one of the plaques honoring Vietnam veterans who died in the conflict. During the library tour, I was astonished to learn that Hickman faculty promote their students to be more socially conscious of the history that is unfolding around them. The Class of ’67, in particular, was well-positioned to make an impact on how well race relations would be in the coming years. A time when you saw a person for their worth and warmth, and not the color of their skin.
At the evening gala, we eulogized deceased classmates, all 65 of them, by streaming each of their Senior class pictures on an overhead. At our table, all wept for the loss of such precious lives that touched many hearts. Many died too young. Some died in battle. Others since the last reunion. To call out a few of the recent deaths, Gary Warren, a cousin of Glenn’s, who died three years ago. And Eddie Gross, who shocked everyone by attending the 45th, the only reunion he had ever attended – he passed away a few months later.
As the reunion came to a close, classmates warmly embraced one another, with only the highest hopes of seeing their smiling faces again in five years. With tomorrows not promised, we pray for peace and cherish these memories in our hearts.