Thursday Night Lights: The Untold Story of the Prairie View Interscholastic League

October 12, 2017

Michael Hurd, director of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University, recently published a book entitled Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas. Hurd noticed there was a lack of stories about the Prairie View Interscholastic League so he drew on interviews, newspaper stories, and memorabilia to shine a light on the programs under the PVIL. Organized by the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas and the Negro School Division of the State Department of Texas in 1920, PVIL (formerly known as the Texas Interscholastic League of Colored Schools) served as the governing body for extra-curricular activities (arts, literature athletics, and music) for Texas’ African American High Schools. Three years later, it would come under the authority of Prairie View A&M University.

 

“The motivation for this book stemmed from my High School days,” said Hurd. A graduate of Worthing High School in Houston, a PVIL school, Hurd was exposed to the many great athletes and coaches the PVIL produced. “Basically all of the black schools in Texas were under the PVIL banner,” said Hurd, “In most of the towns around the state, the black high schools played their games on Wednesday and Thursday nights.” He said his interest in sports and his career as a sports writer played a part in his desire to share the PVIL story.

 

“I write about this in the introductory to this book, it’s constantly been on my mind during my sports writing career,” said Hurd. Although the black high school teams were mentioned in the newspapers, he knew this story had never been told in depth.  Within the last five years, he decided to write the book because of an event, the PVIL Coaches Association Annual Banquet. “I went to one a few years ago and it really gave me the bug to write this book,” said Hurd. From the players to the coaches, he felt this was something he needed to talk about.

 

He decided to focus on players, coaches, the evolution of the PVIL, the history of PVAMU and how it got involved in the PVIL amongst other subjects. “I wanted to give as much in-depth treatment to as much as I could,” said Hurd, “I knew I wasn’t going to get to tell everything, but it depended on who was still around and who I could talk to.”  He hopes readers gain a new knowledge of the league and the untold stories of Texas football after completing the book. “I want people to know about this league, some of those players, and how they performed in high school,” said Hurd, “I want people to know about some of these coaches, how they were able to develop these teams and mentor a lot of young black men.”