When Crispus Attucks High School first opened its doors in September 1927 – 62 years after the thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Amendment was passed, abolishing slavery in the United States – it served as the first and only public high school for African Americans in the city of Indianapolis.
“Crispus Attucks High School was an educational seed that God planted in the city of Indianapolis,” reflects Fred Robinson, Crispus Attucks Alumni Association president.
Rich in history, Crispus Attucks High School was given its name in honor of war hero, Crispus Attucks, who is considered the first casualty of the American Revolutionary War. Even after school segregation was outlawed in 1949, the student body remained predominately African American until the 1970’s, when an intense focus on racial integration emerged.
As you know, February is National Black History Month – an annual celebration of the triumphs and successes of African Americans – and serves as a time to reflect on the role of African Americans in U.S. history. Historian Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization dedicated to the research and promotion of the achievements of African Americans. The group sponsored National Negro History Week in February 1926, which sparked a nationwide celebration.
Nearly 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement, President Gerald R. Ford called for public acknowledgement of Black History Month by urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” The alumni of Crispus Attucks High School have wrapped their arms around their school and are truly embracing not only their own history, but the importance of ensuring black history is shared with students and the community at large.
What started as small social gatherings of Attucks graduates, has now evolved into a successful network of individuals who are looking to ensure the prosperity of their alma mater. Currently 40+ graduating classes fall under the alumni association umbrella with nearly 700 active members. To support and preserve the robust history that lies within the walls of Crispus Attucks High School, the Crispus Attucks Museum was formed. Recently, a group of Crispus Attucks Alumni Association members have focused their efforts to form a genealogy group to preserve the many donated Attucks historical artifacts and documents.
Sherry McCoy, Class of 1963, currently serves as Finance Officer for the Crispus Attucks Alumni Association and a member of the genealogy group. She shares the purpose behind her efforts as an active alum, “It’s important to pass down the legacy of the school to the students of Attucks and for them to carry on that tradition as future alumni – [I’m a product of IPS.] I taught within IPS for nearly 20 years, and for the last 20 years I have spent [my time supporting] IPS – the one thing that I know well is [this school district.] I know it’s greatness, I know where it’s been – I’m unwilling to believe that greatness is unable to be perpetuated [by our students].”
IPS is proud of the historic legacy found within our diverse community. Thanks to our dedicated alumni, our students will be better prepared to share with future generations the efforts, experiences and successes of their predecessors!