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F.W. Gross symbol of times, testament to strength

Aug. 8, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.


F.W. Gross High School facts

MASCOT: Fighting Bumble Bee

SCHOOL COLORS: Maroon and gold

Frederick W. Gross was a principal from 1887 to 1907

The last graduating class before VISD integrated ethnic races was in 1966.

Segregation wasn't something that happened elsewhere. It happened here, in Victoria, as well.

Although the Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, VISD didn't comply until 1966.

Many students today may or may not be aware that there was a time when they would not have been permitted to attend school with many of their friends and classmates.

On the corner of East Convent and South Depot streets, rests the origins of F.W. Gross school. A sign on that building confirms a sordid past, reading, simply, "Colored School." When the school moved to its current location in 1939, it was named for Gross, the school's first principal.

Growing up in our more racially-tolerant society, some students may find it hard to believe that many people, just two or three generations before, were not so tolerant. There was racial separation because many whites truly believed that those of other races were inferior and that, somehow, having white and black students in close proximity with one another would bring harm to the white race.

F.W. Gross school, however, proved such ideas ridiculous. The school thrived and educated generations of black students, regardless of whatever social impediments were put in their way.

The end result was an impressive community of educated black Victorians who were left with a solid education and fond memories of their time at F.W. Gross.

On Saturday, July 30, the school received a well-deserved historical marker, and many of those former students and their families came for the dedication. The strong turnout was not only a testament to the endearing legacy of F.W. Gross school, but also to the strength and pride of its many, many students.

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