Since its inception, the Forward Times Sports Section was built on the hard work and dedication of legends such as Bud Johnson, Joe Booker, CBoy Vaughn, Ralph Cooper, King Arthur Prayther and Yolande Lezine, who was the first of only two female Sports Editors in the history of the newspaper: the second being Grace Boateng.
They were following the vision of the founder, Mr. Julius Carter, to not only cover news that was relevant to the Black community, including the wonderful world of sports.
The goal was to feature stories on Black athletes, particularly high school stars and their respective schools. This brought great pride to the Black community.
As a kid growing up in Houston’s Third Ward who loved sports, I would often read the Forward Times, particularly the Sports section that my father purchased weekly. I remember seeing those beautiful black and white photos from the Turkey Day Classic football game on Thanksgiving Day between Jack Yates and Phyllis Wheatley at the old Jeppesen Stadium on Scott St. The photos of fans in the stands where both sides were packed are nostalgic. I remember the photos of great athletes like Dwight Jones and Eddie Owens of Wheatley, and all those great Wheatley teams that won state, coached by legendary coach Jackie Carr. The great Kashmere teams with players like Karl Godine and Jarvis Williams that won back-to-back state championships under Coach William Drew.
Feature stories on legendary coaches, such as the great Pat Patterson of Yates, who coached some great players like John Marshall, Walter Ford, and Dumas Lang. They competed in the old Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) and won several state championships during those days. Also, Coach Luther Booker of Yates, who went on to win the University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Championship in 1985—the first by an inner-city Black school. This team was named “Team of the Decade of the 80’s” and many say that Yates was the greatest high school football team in Texas High school history. That team was led by the late, great Johnny Bailey.
As a lover of history and tradition, my goal is to bring back some of those traditions that built the Sports section to be one of the premier Sports sections in Houston for many years. The torch has been passed to me, to carry on this legacy of greatness of the oldest independently owned Black newspaper in the South. I’ve spoken to Ralph Cooper, who is a legend himself. Ralph worked directly with those legends who laid the foundation for this nationally known, award-winning newspaper.
I’m humbled to be in this position and to work in the very same building that has stood strong for over 62 years in Third Ward. From the little kid who grew up a few blocks away in the Cuney Homes, and who rode past the Forward Times building many times on my bike, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to serve as your Sports Editor.
I’m just telling like it is!!
Burl ‘The Coach” Jones