Longview ISD Renames South Ward to Honor First Black Director | Education
In 1974, Clarence Bailey was elected to the Longview ISD School Board as the first black administrator – now he will be honored with a campus bearing his name.
Bailey was elected four years after Longview ISD entered its schools. The diversity of the board has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Today, the majority of trustees are not white – reflecting the district’s student demographics – and the board is headed by Shan Bauer, a black woman.
The board voted Wednesday to honor Bailey by changing the name of South Ward Elementary School to Clarence W. Bailey Elementary School.
Bauer said she was proud to be able to make this change.
“It’s just one of those things where, as a member of this community and a member of the community that I serve – seeing our first black school board member, he had the will, the pride and the honor to go. moving forward during such an uncertain time to ensure that those who resembled him had a fair share in the discussions regarding the education of our children – when it came time for him to take that step, that act of faith and having the courage to do so, that justifies this honor bestowed upon him, ”said Bauer.
“I think that as a member of this board and as a member of the community in which he served, it is just an honor that I can be here as chairman of the board and witnessing this change and not only acknowledging Mr Bailey but justifying his actions, “she said.” It took a lot of strength and will to do what he did. “
An official unveiling ceremony is scheduled, but details have not been finalized, Bauer said.
Superintendent James Wilcox said the district was delighted to have the opportunity to honor Bailey. He said there was no specific reason South Ward was chosen as the campus to bear his name.
Bailey died in February, but his daughter, Sherry Smith, said she wished he was still around to see it happen because he would be grateful and surprised.
Smith, who lives in Arlington, said she had been to South Ward and it was special to see a school she attended named after her father.
South Ward opened in 1936 and served black students during solitary confinement.
Smith said it would be his father’s greatest achievement because he believed in education for everyone.
“I just remember when he showed up to the school board, he was very excited,” she says. “I remember he was so energetic. He said, ‘I really want to do this and run. I know there hasn’t been a Black person on the board, but I believe I can do it and do it. a change not just for black students, but everyone. ‘ “
Remembering his father, Smith said he was doing whatever he could to get the word out that he was running for council. He visited many schools during his campaign.
“It was difficult in a lot of ways,” she said. “He would sometimes say, ‘I don’t know if I should say it that way or go this way,’ but he would say, ‘I’ll try anyway.’ He was so energetic to run. “
Bailey graduated from Mary C. Womack High School in 1950. He then attended Wiley College and received a degree in physical education and biology.
Smith said he also attended college in Des Moines, Iowa, and earned a master’s degree in psychology.
“He wanted to help young people to continue their education,” she said.
Bailey continued to serve as a teacher and coach for Longview ISD for seven years. He has served on several committees of the Longview Chamber of Commerce and the VOE Advisory Board of Longview High School. For eight years, he was a director of the board of directors of Good Shepard Hospital.
He was also a reserve officer for the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and finance chairman of the Wiley College Board of Trustees.
He was also associate pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Longview.
Smith said that even at 87, his father still sang and preached in his retirement home.
“I remember telling him, ‘I’m not just about the black community, but I want to make sure they get their education, but I want to be for everyone who wants their education,” “he said. Smith said. “He would be so honored for that. I can really see him smiling with his head bowed like, ‘I can’t believe this would happen to me.’ He tried to support and help as many people as he could. “