February 29, 2012
1:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Week 3 Day 4
Stephen D. Lee High School Yearbooks
An examination of Volume XXII, of the 1971 Stephen D. Lee Maroon & White yearbook, revealed similar findings as the Volume I, of the 1971 Caldwell High School yearbook. The “Generals” of Stephen D. Lee High School defeated the Tuscaloosa Bears, 20 to 17 during Homecoming, October 30, 1970. The S.D. Lee High School homecoming court was presented along with the court of the Robert S. Caldwell High School.
Page 42 of the 1971 S.D. Lee High School yearbook noted the following: “The 1970 season for the Columbus Generals was the best ever recorded in the history of the school. This team—because of a late change in the city school organization—was able to combine players from both high schools to play under the same colors.” This statement confirms that the first year of integration of the Columbus Mississippi public schools, resulted in the creation of Caldwell High School, while the Stephen D. Lee High School remained a senior high school, as well. This contradicts what the newspaper articles stated, that S.D. Lee became Columbus High School, East Campus, for grades 9 -10. According to the yearbooks, S.D. Lee never ceased being a senior high school.
Another interesting finding was on page 38, where the formation of a Bi-racial Commission was explained:
“The Commission was formed as a request of the principal, Mr. Carr. The Commission was composed of twenty-four students, six from each class, equally representing both blacks and whites. The Commission met several hours each day to resolve difference caused by student dissension. The major factor of the Commission’s success was due to the fact that for the first time blacks and whites were able to communicate on controversial matters that needed to be brought out in the open. Their proposals were submitted to the School Board of Education and approved."
“The 1992-1993 school term will bring another change as Lee High and Caldwell will consolidate and become Columbus High School. The Lee High General will give way to a new mascot, the falcon. The grand old maroon & white will fade to new school colors purple and gold. To those past graduates, however, Lee High School, named for the Civil War general, Stephen D. Lee, will forever be that torch that lit their way, preparing them for the world. So, to you, dear Lee High, farewell.”
Student Journal Reflections
As suspected, research on the Archives’ collection of Stephen D. Lee High School yearbooks, did verify the information learned from the Caldwell High School yearbooks. These schools were definitely intertwined in their history, through the process of desegregation beginning in 1970, in Columbus Mississippi. All of the inconsistencies found in newspaper articles were cleared up and a factual “Historical Note” can be revised for the Caldwell High School Slide inventory. The results of the research will also help in identifying people and events in the images that will be continue to be scanned from slides to photographs.
The photos included with this entry are the outside front cover of the last issue of the Columbus High School yearbook. The photograph used on the yearbook was a portion of a large mural that had hung in the Columbus High School, near the cafeteria. When the school ceased to be a high school, the mural was donated to the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library Billups-Garth Archives, where it hangs today. I have included a photo of that section of the mural, which depicts the early history of Columbus.