SOCSD celebrates 50 year anniversary of integration

*Photograph courtesy of Starkville Daily News archives

*Photograph courtesy of Starkville Daily News archives

Starkville High School celebrated 50 years of integration with a community celebration.

STARKVILLE, Miss. (Oct. 22)– The 50 Years & Counting: Community Celebration program recognized the SHS Class of 1971, the first fully integrated class of students to graduate from Starkville High School. The graduating class included “more than 220” students who received diplomas, according to program emcee Kristie Willliams. 

Williams recognized each attending member of the class by name. 

Henderson High School consisted of a predominantly African American student body; whereas, Starkville High School comprised of a predominately white student body. The students of both schools integrated in the fall of 1970.  

Starkville alumnae Mayor Lynn Spruill spoke at the event.  

“I’m so excited that [the Class of 1971] has come back from so long ago and has come back to celebrate this historic event because they were my classmates,” Spruill said.  

The celebration recognized representatives from the student body. John Young, class speaker at the event, spoke of the class’s successful football team in his time of attending Starkville High School and offered a moment of silence for students and teachers that had passed since graduation.  

The integration impacted the Class of 1971.  

“It made us pull together more and have better relationships with whites where we didn’t have the opportunity before to give with them,” Young said. “It was the beginning of a good thing.”  

Henry Vaughn, Starkville Alderman, also felt the impact of the integration celebration. Vaughn served as the honorary captain of Friday night’s football game against Oxford.  

“It means the world to me to see so many teammates and classmates that I hadn’t seen in 50 years. It’s a great feeling,” Vaughn said. 

The SHS Singers, choir ensemble at Starkville High, sang the original Henderson High alma mater and the Starkville High School alma mater at the event.