The DuSable High School Alumni Coalition for Action will celebrate DuSable’s landmark status at the school’s campus at 4934 S. Wabash Ave. on Friday May 3, 2013, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.
DuSable High School opened in 1935. DuSable High was built to serve the Bronzeville community that surrounds it. The school was designed by architect Paul Gerhardt, Sr.
Historical perspectives and stories abound among DuSable alumni.
Many 1953 DuSable alums attended classes with the late Fraser Robinson III, the father of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Robinson was a DuSable High School scholar who also studied art, specifically sculpting.
Robinson will receive a posthumous “James Wagner Distinguished Alumni Award” at the landmark celebration. Relatives of Robinson are expected to be in attendance to accept that honor.
Timuel Black will be another awardee.
Living legend Timuel Black, an author, academic, activist and statesman, graduated in 1937 as part of DuSable’s first senior class. This year on January 19, a street sign was unveiled at 49th and State Street in honor of Black. He had received the City of Chicago’s first “Championship of Freedom” award just one day prior to that. Last year he won The University of Chicago’s Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He has received numerous other awards throughout his 94 years. Black, the grandson of slaves, also taught for a time at DuSable.
More interesting facts about DuSable High School:
DuSable High School boasts an unparalleled musical heritage.
Music instructor Captain Walter Dyett mentored greats such as Nat “King” Cole, Dorothy Donegan, Johnny Hartman, Johnny Griffin, Von and George Freeman, Morris and Jimmy Ellis, Mwata Bowden, Eddie Harris, Gene “Jug” Ammons, Julian Priester, Wilbur Ware, Ernest McCarty and numerous others.
WGN’s Gloria Brown played several instruments at DuSable.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s father, saxophonist Laurdine “Pat” Patrick, attended DuSable High.
Folk singer Ella Jenkins is a DuSable graduate.
Alumnus Ron Salter will provide music at the landmark celebration.
DuSable High School graduate John H. Johnson went from working on the school newspaper to publishing Ebony, Jet (which are still popular today) and other magazines.
Johnson and his wife, Eunice, also founded the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling haute couture fashion show.
The Chicago History Museum is currently featuring an exhibit of The Ebony Fashion Fair called “Inspiring Beauty” which is on display until January 5, 2014.
Fashion Fair Cosmetics remain popular worldwide.
Johnson once owned a radio station, WJPC, which he housed in Johnson Publishing Company’s eleven-story building at 820 South Michigan Avenue along with all of his other holdings.
DuSable grad Vincent T. Cullers founded the nation's first black-owned full-service advertising agency, Vince Cullers Advertising Inc.
Other alumni business pioneers include real estate mogul, author and musician Dempsey Travis as well as
Soft Sheen Products co-founder Bettiann Gardner.
Many DuSable High School grads, including Mayor Harold Washington and former Police Superintendent Fred Rice, have impacted Chicago.
State Senator Mattie Hunter and former State Senator Howard Brookins are DuSable High School graduates.
Judges William Cousins, Everett Braden and P. Scott Neville are a few of the justices who have graduated from DuSable High School.
A newspaper obituary of pioneer labor leader Rev. Addie Wyatt said that “at DuSable she learned to quietly but forcefully speak her mind.”
DuSable High School art teacher Margaret Burroughs co-founded the DuSable Museum of African American History, the South Side Community Art Center and the Lake Meadows Art Fair.
Soul Train’s Don Cornelius and Comedian Redd Foxx attended DuSable High School. (Timuel Black shared a study hall with Foxx and a class with famous musician Nat King Cole who pioneered a TV show in the 1950s.)
Television personality “Mother Dear” (Nezelle Bradshaw), the grandmother of Windy City Live’s Val Warner, not only was a DuSable health and physical education teacher, she also coached the cheerleaders and women’s swim team during the mid- 1960s and early 1970s.
DuSable has been home to many exceptional athletes.
Basketball greats include Maurice Cheeks and Kevin Porter.
The late Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton, a 1942 DuSable grad and former Harlem Globetrotter, was the second African American to sign with the NBA.
“Sweet” Charlie Brown" and Paxton Lumpkin were top scorers on the 1953 and 1954 DuSable Panthers basketball team coached by Jim Brown. Those Panthers were the 2nd all-black team from Chicago to go Downstate and compete.
The first to make that claim was the New Phillips (soon to be renamed DuSable) team of 1936, which included Timuel Black.
Eddie Kirk of “The DuSable Seahorses” was the first African-American to become an interscholastic All-American swimmer. He was an Illinois State High School championship winner in 1950. DuSable’s Seahorses were outstanding from the 1930s to the 1950s and Kirk has been called “DuSable’s greatest swimmer.”
THOUGH THIS LIST IS LONG, IT IS AN ABBREVIATED LEGACY OF DuSABLE THAT EXEMPLIFIES PUBLIC SCHOOL POSSIBILITIES APPLICABLE TO TODAY.
Celebrate DuSable’s Landmark Status.
For ticket information about DuSable High School’s Landmark Celebration call (773) 419-4835.
For general inquiries contact: (708) 263-9295.