In response to the article (“New La Marque school and gym named for supporters,” The Daily News, April 12): The article came short of scratching the surface of the commitment and dedication of those three legends.

Those facilities and gym that will bear the names of those three men will be glorious examples of the life and legacy of the former La Marque Independent School District. The names will serve as symbols of personification, and will add meaning to the unity and connectivity of the school district and this entire community.

During the earlier days of the La Marque “Colored School” and Lincoln High School, Professor Pickney S. Simms served as principal and superintendent of the African-American schools. Simms was a no nonsense educator. I was blessed to have lived across the street from him, as he and my grandmother would work with concerted efforts to ensure all of the neighborhood children were well prepared to enter Woodland Elementary School.

Simms didn’t stop there because he worked with the high school students to assist with their preparedness for their next step in life.

In the days of Simms and other adults, there was a strict moral code that wasn’t debatable, and we lived by it. We were, as youngsters, afraid not to live by the code. Those adults didn’t tolerate lying or stealing by anyone. As God would have it, Ralph C. Allen was hired to assist and strengthen the code. Allen was a very special presence, and from the first point of contact with him, one would know that, immediately.

Allen had an uncanny knack for bringing out the best in everyone. At Lincoln, he served as the head football coach, history and civics teacher, and the vice principal. During the 1964-65 school year, as the students participated in a walk-out over what we perceived as a civil rights issue, Allen worked with our teachers to make sure that we received homework daily. After our grievances were resolved, we were welcomed back to school by Allen with open arms and a huge heart.

In the school year of 1966, we were assigned a Caucasian principal at Lincoln. Again, Allen was there and made sure that he received respect from the student body. In 1970, the year Lincoln closed, Allen became the first African-American assistant principal at La Marque High School.

As for the late Jimmy Hayley, it’s well known that he bled blue, white and gold. He loved his La Marque Cougars. His tenure on the La Marque ISD school board as a member and president for 27 years, served as a testament of his love for the school district. Hayley was also a force in the community when he became the president of the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce.

This community thanks the committee members who worked diligently, over weeks, to determine the well-deserved names for the facilities. We also thank the entire school board and superintendent for their support.

The Rev. James E. Daniels is founder and chairman of the Eagles’ Nest Community Organization and lives in Texas City.


(5) comments

Gary Scoggin

I never knew Mr. Allen, but after your description, I wish I had. I did know Jimmy Haley and like most everyone else I loved and respected him.

I agree, TCISD got it right in naming these two schools.

George Croix

Watch out for flying Sus domesticus today!!!!

I know they're out there, because I actually agree with about 98% of what this author wrote today.....

Carlos Ponce

Good article, Daniels! Shows when you to stick to things you know you write a good column. Politics - not so much.

Charles Douglas

I too, agree with most of what Reverend Daniels posted here, however, not all of what was said I agree with. Sure, honor Mr. Simms, with his name on a school. Sure honor Mr. Hayley with his name on a school too. The thing I have a problem with, and will not bulge from is this, .. how can anyone justfy NOT doing the same thing for Mr. Ralph C. Allen after all that man has meant to this community, teachers, staffs, and young people, whose lives he has affected and in a most positive way! Mr. Allen helped transitioned the black and white communities from segregation, hate, and discrimination to, intergration, unity, and a way forward! So all TCISD can do for this great man is to honor him by putting his name on a middle school gymnaisum? I cannot believe this, and I certainly cannot believe that Reverend Daniels is going along with it! I know this man called Ralph Allen as well as anyone, I'm not related to him in anyway, but I came up through that segregated system that LaMarque ISD and sociaty itself propetuated, and I saw the work that this man performed, and his work was every bit as effective, productive, and appreciated by the hundreds and thousands of individuals he disciplined, helped, loved, and mentored over the years that African Americans endured the grievious manacles of segregation and the de-humanizing chains of discrimination! I can remember the bad elements which were prevalent virtuly everywhere. They could only be disciplined or called down by one man at Lincoln High School,...Ralph C. Allen! All of the African American parents gave him card blanche because they knew, trusted, and loved him. They knew he was about their children's future and well being. He gave me hope by his mere demeanor, dignity, and boldness he walked in everday! I knew getting old, second hand football shoes, books with white student's names written in them, and other things from LaMarque High School would not last forever, and it didn't! Changes came. Mr. Allen, Ms. Harper, a white english teacher, and Dr. McBride, a white principal, from Belliare High School in Houston came in to change things. Mr Allen worked diligently with everybody. and every group to facilitate change. They did beautiful things together, and cultivated an atmosphere for new doors of utterances, and new opportunities for us consider! Now we have a panel, and TCISD, who want to honor this great man by what? Putting his name over the door of a GYM? I'm appalled!! Go back to the planning table please! You can, and should do better. This should be a slap in the face of every African American parent or young person who came through during Mr. Allen's tenure at Lincoln High, and LaMarque High schools.

Charles Douglas

Oh, one other thing I might add to my original comment, and that is ..Ms Pettijohn, and Ms Pratt, should be very interested in this situation as the prospective TCISD representative for the old LMISD area. Lastly, allow me to give a little suggestion b/c I learned years ago, you never set a goal unless you also set an accompanying plan to help get you to the goal. Ralph C Allen High School in LaMarque Texas near Vauthier Road, sounds great to me. Don't bother thanking me,....b/c I am BLESSED to BE a BLESSING![innocent]

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