ABOVE: Jack Yates alums: Carl Davis, Jeffrey L. Boney, Dolores Rodgers, James McKnight and Aaron Henry announce $2k Scholarship Contribution from Houston Society for Change
The Jack Yates National Alumni Association (JYNAA) recently hosted the 96th Founder’s Day for the historic Jack Yates High School, located in Houston’s Third Ward community.
The celebration, which was held at S.H.A.P.E. Community Center on Almeda Rd., took place on the day that Jack Yates High School first opened its hallowed doors—February 8,1926.
The program featured alumni from various class years and highlighted the history of Jack Yates and the commitment of the JYNAA to continue the focus of preserving the legacy of Jack Yates High School through Pride, Excellence and Tradition.
Jack Yates High School is named after civic leader and Baptist minister, Reverend John Henry “Jack” Yates, who was instrumental in the purchase of Emancipation Park after being freed from slavery, amongst other things. He became one of the most influential leaders of Fourth Ward Houston in the 19th century, having founded both Bethel and Antioch Baptist Churches and sponsored many other churches and schools in hopes of developing Black youth as leaders.
Missouri City Councilmember and Jack Yates alumnus Jeffrey L. Boney served as the Master of Ceremonies and talked about being a third-generation attendee of Jack Yates High School, and the importance for JYNAA to help preserve the legacy and help the school.
The great, great grandson of Jack Yates, Shelby Stewart, spoke on behalf of the family at the Founder’s Day celebration and congratulated JYNAA for continuing to highlight the rich legacy of the school and keeping his great, great grandfather’s legacy at the forefront.
Bobby Scott and Aaron Henry, both graduates of JY and Executive Committee members of JYNAA, delivered remarks, encouraging membership to JYNAA and participation in the various committees. Houston City Councilmember and JY alumnus Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz presented JYNAA with a proclamation in honor of the occasion. JY alumnus Sister Mama Sonya delivered powerful closing remarks regarding the school’s history to close out the ceremony.
The Houston Society for Change Board of Directors, led by Jack Yates alumnus Carl Davis, made a significant contribution of $2k to the JYNAA Scholarship Fund to assist the 2022 JY graduating class with necessary funds to help them further their dreams on their path to success.
The JYNAA thanked Houston Society for Change Board Members: Carl Davis, Chris Spellmon, Pernell Davis, Donna Aron, and Ronda Spellmon, for their investment in Jack Yates students.
Jack Yates High School was established as the second school for African Americans in the city of Houston to relieve overcrowding that resulted from the growth of the city’s African American population, which tripled between 1924 and 1929. On its opening day, Jack Yates High Schoolhad a staff of 17 teachers and a total of 600 students.
James D. Ryan served as the first principal of the campus from its opening in 1926 until his death in 1941. Originally located at 2610 Elgin, at the former James D. Ryan Middle School site (now the Baylor College of Medicine at Ryan), the campus moved to 3703 Sampson Street in 1958 until it was torn down to make way for a newly built school right next door, that opened its doors in 2018. Jack Yates is now located at 3650 Alabama Street.