Labor Day Weekend’s Alton Black Alumni Golf Tourney set Sept. 3


ALTON — It’s an even numbered year and the Alton Black Alumni Association is once again holding its biennial Alton Black Alumni Reunion Lee C. Cox Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament.

The group is looking for and encouraging more players to sign up for the tourney taking place Saturday, Sept. 3, at Rock Springs Golf Course, 1 Rock Springs Drive, in Alton. Registration is at 7:30 am A shotgun start is at 8:30 am The cost is $40 for nine holes and a four person scramble. Lunch and cash prizes are included.

To sign up make checks payable to Alton Friends of the ’60s/Alton Black Alumni and return registration remittance to Alton Black Alumni Reunion to PO Box 1033, Alton, 62002. For more information contact Shirley Henderson at 618-606-2612 or Pam Portee at 618-225-3353

The concept of the Alton Friends of the 60s/Alton Black Alumni all began in the late ’90s/early 2000s. It was during that timeframe that several local alumni talked about and debated the virtues of a black reunion experience. The debates revolved around questions/concerns such as conflicting and competing with the Alton High School reunion tradition; whether the ‘”Black” alumni label offends; and whether the Black community would respond and support a black reunion experience, according to the group’s website, www.altonblackalumni.org.

Informal debate went on for a couple of years until, finally, in 2003 a core group of friends decided to make that concept a reality. As a result, the Alton Friends of the ’60s (FOS) organization was formed and the inaugural Alton Black Alumni Reunion was planned for 2004.

A strong factor behind the push for a black reunion experience was the segregation of Alton elementary and junior high schools until the mid 1950s. Alton Senior High had always been “integrated,” but for many years Black students were not allowed to participate in most of the school’s extra-curricular activities. The major exception was athletics. Alton was a powerhouse in football and track and field, and black athletes thrived and were the superstars and leaders.

For young Black and White pre-high school students integration provided a new cultural awareness and experience. There were new friendships developed among black and white students. Kids played together both at school and after school. But as these students moved on to high school, the friendships became more strained and distant, according to the history recorded at the website. Many students reverted back into segregated ways. During high school, Black students were on their own.

During the first set of official AHS ’60s reunions, Black alumni from each class found they had similar experiences. There were typically eight to 12 Black alumni among 200-300 total attendees, because Black alumni said they did not attend because they “felt they had little in common with their white classmates” or they “really did not have shared experiences or memories of their times together in high school,” except for sports.

Those Black alumni debating whether to start at Black reunion said the realized that they were products of a unique time and place in history as part of a decade that ushered in a new era for the country and the Alton community. They shared a rich history and decided that they needed to celebrate it and each other.

Alton Friends of the 60s/Alton Black Alumni host a reunion on Labor Day weekend biennially in even-numbered years.

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