McFarland reunion to highlight R.C. Hickman historical dedication

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Among the odes to history and achievement at Saturday’s McFarland High reunion in Mineola will be the dedication of a state historical marker recognizing the life and work of famed Dallas photographer R.C. Hickman.

The Hickman ceremony will be one of a multitude of historically significant events expected to unfold as part of this year’s McFarland reunion. This year’s parade will feature six former McFarland queens who wore crowns from 1962-1966.

Numerous accounts published online indicate that R.C. Hickman was born in Mineola in 1922. He, his father, and his brother moved to Dallas during the Great Depression. Hickman attended Austin’s Tillotson College until the onset of World War II. His interest in photography developed during the war, and he became a credentialed Army photographer. He returned to Dallas at war’s end and began a career as a news photographer at the Dallas Star Post. He also worked as a freelancer for Jet magazine as well as the NAACP, for which his photography documented stark inequities at Dallas schools.

His work captured a broad subject matter. In addition to Dallas news events, he captured images of Dallas nightclubs, universities, funerals, and notable Dallas citizens. Most of his photographs were shot during the 1950s. Hickman died in Dallas on Dec. 1, 2007.

The dedication is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the old Bar 20 on Padgett Street at the conclusion of the parade.

The parade, which begins at 10 a.m. at Graham and Broad streets, features six alumni queens. The year 1962’s queen, valedictorian and Ms. McFarland Louise Tuck Clark will serve as grand marshal. Joining her will be Dorthy Williams Bradley, Cleaidis Greer Walton, Elizabeth William Miller, Janell Wooten Gordon, and Demetrius Brown Stephens.

The parade will field 23 entries, including a featured float called “Bridging the Gap,” which will honor deceased cheerleaders, majorettes and teachers.

The parade will proceed from East Broad Street to Stone, down MLK and conclude at Padgett Street. The parade’s commentator will be Tonya Slayton (Mama T) from KMOO. Opening ceremonies are set for 11 a.m. at the McFarland Center, 708 S. Stone St., followed by the Purple and White Bash, music, games, and an adult and children fun time. Everyone is welcome to attend the day’s festivities.

The reunion concludes with a dinner/dance from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the L.C. Gregory Complex.

McFarland High School can trace its roots back to the late 1930s.

In 1927, a fire destroyed Mineola’s original school for African-Americans. Sometime between 1937 and 1939, a new school was built. During 1947-1948, the school became exclusively a high school and the name was changed from South Ward School to Mineola Colored High School, which went up only to the 10th grade.

During the 1950s, the school became McFarland High School to honor longtime teacher Addie McFarland. The last graduating class from McFarland was in 1966, the year Mineola’s schools became integrated. The next fall, students attended Mineola High School, and McFarland was closed.

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