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History provided by:
Erma Glasco Davis,
a member of the May, 1945 Class of Dunbar High School. She received her undergraduate degree from AM&N College (now University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). She completed studies for the Master of Education degree from Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, and earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Most her professional career (31 years) was spent in Detroit, Michigan as a classroom teacher, school counselor, administrator in the Detroit Public School System and an adjunct professor at Marygrove College. Dr. Davis married James E. Davis, formerly of Marianna, Arkansas. They have one daughter, Marilyn, who (at the time of this publication) is Vice President, Risk Financing, American Express Company, New York, New York.
HISTORY of the NATIONAL DUNBAR ALUMNI ASSOCIATION of Little Rock, Arkansas The National Dunbar Alumni Association of Little Rock, Arkansas is a non-profit, tax-exempt, publicly-supported federation of former students, graduates, and staff of Dunbar High School and Junior College. Al-though its legal purpose is to promote civic, educational, and social interests of the community, the Association also aims to encourage and coordinate talents of Dunbar graduates throughout the United States and abroad in preserving the Dunbar facility and perpetuating its spirit of excellence in their lives and in the lives of others. The idea of a Dunbar alumni group was conceptualized as early as 1949, when Dr. Leroy M. Christophe and Herbert Denton discussed the notion with several teachers and other alumni. A copy of the proposed high school alumni association’s February 4, 1949 minutes, provided by a Dunbar alumna reads: “Seven people met on the above date in the Music Room of Dunbar High School for the purpose of organizing the High School Alumni Association. The meeting was opened at about 8:45, with singing by the Dunbar Choir. Professor L.M. Christophe gave the purpose of the meeting and some discussion followed. It was decided that only temporary officers be elected, and at the next meeting when a larger number of people is expected, permanent officers will be elected. Mr. L.L. McDowell was elected as acting chairman and Jewell Porche, Acting chairman and Jewell Porche, acting secretary. Mr. Denton opened the discussion of the purpose of the organization. The following points were brought out in the discussion: To help Dunbar High School; to become active in civic activities; to help the school meet the needs of the children in Little Rock; to pay tuition of worthy students. In the discussion of how to get graduates interested in the organization, the following suggestions were given: Contact key members of all class members; send postcards to graduates inviting them to the meetings; give door prizes. Professor Christophe would be responsible for securing a list of key members of classes and provide the list to the acting secretary, who would, in turn, contact members by postcards bought out of the school’s treasurer. It was suggested by Mr. Denton that the alumni association publish a newspaper giving activities of graduates and other information that would interest students and alumni. Professor Christophe suggested a “class reunion” at each commencement. Classes represented were: 1946, 1936, 1929, 1926, 1924, 1933, and 1910. At the next meeting, which will be held Wednesday, March 2nd, permanent officers will be elected, dues or membership fees will be discussed, and door prizes will be given.” L.L. McDowell, Acting Chairman Jewell Porche, Acting Secretary Following this initial meeting, very little was accomplished. The idea of a high school alumni association remained in the “talking” stage and, for various reasons, the idea remained dormant until some years later. In large measure, credit must be given to the Class of 1936, whose members in different parts of the country, provided the impetus which eventually led to the establishment of a formal national organization. In 1956, Don Walters was asked by Joel Edgerson to come to Little Rock and organize the May class of 1936. A meeting was held at the home of Audrey Turner Hopkins. Edgerson was appointed chairman of the constitution and bylaws committee. A constitution was adopted in October 1956, thus making this group the first formal group of Dunbar alumni. The first reunion was held five years later in 1961. A program was held at Dunbar, although most activities were held at Tillars Park. On the West Coast, members of the Class of 1936, residing in Los Angeles held a “get-together” in August, 1989. Several of them expressed an interest in forming a Dunbar High School alumni association. Quenton Banks was chosen by those present to recruit other interested alumni to form a chapter in the Los Angeles area. The group was formally organized and remained active for a number of years. The chapter served as host to the Third Reunion of Classes in 1977. In the Midwest, Don Walters, unable to locate more than three members of the Class of 1936, who lived in Detroit, Michigan, decided to contact Dunbar alumni in the Detroit area regardless of the year of graduation. An alumni chapter was organized in 1972. Walters was credited with initiating a reunion of all classes, the first of which was held in Detroit, Michigan in August, 1973. Walters—in Detroit, and Quenton Banks—in Los Angeles, contacted graduates nationwide to sell them on the idea of organizing chapters in various cities and forming a national body. Many alumni cam to the First Reunion of Classes in Detroit and returned to their homes inspired, motivated, and determined to form chapters of alumni. Following the 1973 Reunion of Classes, Chicago alumni were the very first to organize. They held a Second Reunion of Classes in July, 1975, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel. It was at this gathering, during a business session, that members voted to organize a National Dunbar Alumni Association. Attorney Jackie Shropshire served as moderator. A temporary Board of Governors was established to implement the nationalization. The Los Angeles group, already formalized as a chapter in 1970, served as host to the Third Reunion of Classes in 1977. It was there that the idea of a national organization began to materialize. Newton Long of Chicago, Illinois, was elected president and was directed to charter the national organization in Little Rock, Arkansas. Other national officers elected at that gathering were: Dan Settles, First Vice President Quenton Banks, Second Vice President Fannie Bryant, Secretary Marjorie Coleman, Treasurer Confusion and disputes arose at the Third Reunion over certain parliamentary procedures used in attempting to establish a national organization. A few members used Robert’s Rules of Order to substantiate their stance. They advocated (1) the election of temporary officers; (2) a committee appointed to draft bylaws; (3) a second organizational meeting (of interested persons attending the first meeting) to consider and adopt bylaws and to designate charter members; and (4)the nomination and election of permanent officers later, as prescribed in the bylaws. The argued that national officers could not be elected until there was an organization and until there was a constitution governing such elections. There was no constitution at the Los Angeles meeting, thus making the proceedings illegal, they claimed. On the other hand, another group thought it appropriate for the body, with majority consent, to make its own rules. The latter prevailed and Newton Long, having been elected national president, proceeded to fulfill the body’s mandate, i.e., to form a national organization and charter that organization in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Constitution Convention was assembled late in 1977, to draft a constitution and bylaws. By March 1978, every chapter except one that had previously existed was formed into a national organization and the organization was charted in Arkansas as mandated. Articles of Incorporation were certified in June 1978, by the Secretary of State of Arkansas. Initial incorporators were Newton Long, Napoleon Talley, Quenton Banks, and Don Walters. Thus was formed the initial Board of Governors for the Association. The Certificate of Incorporation was presented to alumni at the Fourth Reunion of Classes in Little Rock in July, 1979. The organization’s constitution and bylaws were accepted at this reunion and a national dues assessment was established. In spite of differences of opinion regarding the legality of parliamentary procedures, those officers elected in Los Angeles continued to serve until the expiration of their terms and/or re-election. The Fifth Reunion of Classes convened in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1981. A highlight of this meeting was the introduction of the book, A Traditional Model of Educational Excellence: Dunbar High School of Little Rock, Arkansas, Dr. Faustine Childress Jones, author and Dunbar alumna. An Autograph Party- Reception was hosted by Miller Brewing Company. It was also at the Fifth Reunion that the first Address Directory including names and addresses of alumni across the United States was distributed. The directory was compiled and published by the St. Louis chapter. Since then, the host chapter for each subsequent Reunion of Classes has made available an updated directory. Newton Long served faithfully as national president for six years. During his tenure, additional chapters were formed; Dunbar was placed on the national Registry of Historic Places; and a national scholarship fund was established at the Sixth Reunion of Classes, in Seattle, Washington. Edward R. Reason of Chicago, Illinois was appointed chairman of the Scholarship Fund Committee. Other members of this committee were:
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