Black High School Football — The Prairie View Interscholastic League
"Remembering the Past With Pride"
October - November 2015
This exhibit focused on football programs at Texas’ black high schools before integration and featured memorabilia courtesy of the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association (pvilca.org), which is working to preserve and commemorate the history of the Prairie View Interscholastic League which governed athletic, academic, and music competitions for the state’s black high schools during segregation. The PVIL was organized in 1920 by Prairie View officials and existed until 1970 when its merger with the University Interscholastic League was completed.
The exhibit included vintage images, trophies, news clips, uniforms and equipment. Despite being woefully underfunded and lacking other basic resources, PVIL schools featured passionate rivalries, legendary coaches, and dozens of college All-Americans – most through historically black colleges such as Prairie View and Texas Southern University -- and professional standouts.
The UIL opened in 1910 at the University of Texas to govern competitions for “any white public school” in the state. It would be another 10 years before African American students in Texas would have the same guidance afforded them by the Texas Interscholastic League of Colored Schools, which would mirror the UIL’s operations and produce some of the finest football talent in the nation.
The TILCS became the "Prairie View Interscholastic League" and its football honor roll reads like a Who’s Who of national prep, college, and professional gridiron greats, from Dallas Lincoln and PV’s Charlie “Choo-Choo” Brackins, the first black quarterback drafted to the NFL (1955 – 16th round, Green Bay Packers) to Houston Washington’s Eldridge Dickey, who was drafted ahead of Alabama’s Ken “Snake” Stabler by the Oakland Raiders in 1968, becoming the first black quarterback drafted in the NFL’s first round.
The schools also produced five Pro Football Hall of Fame members, including “Mean” Joe Greene (Temple Dunbar), Dick "Night Train" Lane (Austin Anderson) and PV great Ken Houston (Lufkin Dunbar). Also, the Yates-Wheatley rivalry in Houston started in 1927, and eight years later began an annual Thanksgiving Day game that drew standing room only crowds and for many years was the top draw in the nation for a high school football game.