Half a century ago, these men were among the best basketball players in Fort Worth, but few knew about them and many didn’t care.
They played for I.M. Terrell and Kirkpatrick high schools in Fort Worth, and dominated the Prairie View Interscholastic League during the days of racial segregation.
To mark the 50th anniversary of those PVIL championships — Terrell in 4A and Kirkpatrick in 3A — spectators at Friday’s UIL boys basketball championship got a history lesson few will likely forget.
Public schools desegregation was the law by 1967, but change was slow, said UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt, who led a ceremony for the Terrell and Kirkpatrick teams during halftime of the Silsbee-Argyle game.
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“During that time these men here would not have played on this floor, they weren’t allowed to play at the University of Texas on that floor,” Breithaupt said. “They had to play at Prairie View (A&M) in the PVIL. Progress was beginning but it wasn’t there yet.
“We all know how important it is to not forget our past so that we won’t repeat the mistakes of those days. These men won state championships under difficult circumstances.”
Breithaupt introduced Kirkpatrick players, then the Terrell team. Each man, or a family representative, was given a commemorative pin by PVIL Coaches Association chairman Robert Brown. Recipients also met UIL athletic director Susan Elza and boys tournament director Darryl Beasley.
Breithaupt saved the introduction of Terrell coach Robert Hughes Sr. for last, mentioning the two Fort Worth Dunbar UIL titles as well as the three PVIL titles Hughes earned for the Terrell Panthers — then closing the introduction with the record 1,333 boys basketball wins.
Hughes, 89, received the lone standing ovation during the ceremony.
Kirkpatrick coach Lester J. Beene, 83, was unable to attend, but grandson Mark Williams flew in from Washington, D.C., to represent Beene.
“He was a part of their families, not just a high school coach,” said Pam Edwards, Beene’s daughter. “They continue to talk about how he made such a positive impact in their lives.
“It means a lot to my family. It has meant a lot to us. It has been an amazing day.”