SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Before it was Caddo Magnet High School, it was Valencia Junior Senior High, where Shreveport’s black students were educated. The class of 1970 was the last senior class from Valencia. This year they will celebrate their 50th reunion.
“The teachers that were here were directed and determined to make an impact with the students that were here. And the students that came in were excited and ready to do almost anything to excel,” said Carl Robinson, Valencia High School Class of 1970.
Robinson and Cynthia Harris remember their days at Valencia. They were among the first students to attend the brand new school for African American students when it opened.
“A little apprehensive for a 7th grader, new environment, but overall it was wonderful,” remembered Harris.
They say it was truly a community school, with lots of support from the families in the Stoner Hill Neighborhood.
“A lot of the school sponsors… a lot of them lived across the street,” said Robinson.
The school was built specifically for black students in 1964, despite the United States Supreme Court banning segregation in public schools a decade earlier.
It was 1954 when Thurgood Marshall, then head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, successfully argued the landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education.
In 1965, Reverend E. Edward Jones sued Caddo Parish Schools, pushing for integration.
It wasn’t until 1970 when the district desegregated Valencia, right in the middle of Carl and Cynthia’s senior year.
“What I had looked for and longed for in anticipation for my senior year was a senior class night, senior play, the senior prom,” said Harris. “We had none of that.”
“Desegregated didn’t mean other schools were coming to us,” said Robinson. “It meant that we were going to them.”
They were bused from Stoner Hill to Byrd High School.
“Students from Valencia sat on one side or sat in the back and when questions were asked and you raised your hand, you were ignored,” recalled Robinson.
During graduation for the recently integrated class, Valencia students made sure to honor their alma mater.
“We wore our school colors orange and green, cap and gown and Byrd wore their purple and gold,” said Harris.
The class of 1970 was the last senior class from Valencia.
They will celebrate the accomplishments of their classmates during their 50th reunion this year and remember the good times.
“We want to get together and celebrate, to remember the teachers and the principals and really everyone who poured into us,” said Harris. “Many of us don’t live in this community anymore but we are connected by the spirit of Valencia.”
The 50th reunion takes place September 4-6, 2020. For more information email VHSC70@yahoo.com