Lasting legacy: Inaugural award recognizes McKinney trailblazers


Overview

Published: 02/27/2014

by McKinney Courier-Gazette

Photos

Behind every history is a story; every story, a name.

One such name is etched into the fabric of McKinney, a historic city by all accounts. The name should echo in school hallways, down east side streets.

Yet, few today know of E.S. Doty – at least for now.

The Professor E.S. Doty Trailblazer Award has given new impetus to his impact. Presented Sunday at First Baptist Church of McKinney, the first-ever award provides a $1,000 scholarship for the McKinney Education Foundation to give students who reside east of State Highway 5.

More importantly, it recognizes those who, like Doty, molded their city.

“Without a Professor E.S. Doty being deeply imbedded in our history, our community would not look the same as it looks now,” said Pastor Derrick Scobey, who presented the award. “But we’ve forgotten about him. His legacy has just kind of fallen by the wayside.”

The award will be given to those who’ve made a difference, namely educators who’ve inspired and transcended their generation. McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. JD Kennedy said “it should be an extreme honor to receive an award such as this.”

Doty was principal at the city’s all-black Frederick Douglass High School from 1889-1940. The school was renamed in his honor, and his students carried his courageous torch through the time’s racial turmoil.

Education was his platform, and it helped bridge a long-rooted divide.

His influence went forth in the names he sparked, like Leonard Evans Jr., the first Doty Trailblazer recipient. Known to most as “Coach Evans,” his legacy stands as Evans Middle School – one of four McKinney schools named after African Americans.

Evans, 89, accepted an award long past due. He was the first African-American man to integrate into McKinney ISD, and in 1989, became the district’s first black school board member. He served on the board for 16 years.

Evans spoke of that first Monday morning at the all-white South Ward. It’s an image likely fewer remember than they do the names.

“We thought they might turn my car over and set it afire,” he recalled.

Instead, the school welcomed him with a banner and kindness. They wouldn’t regret it. Evans would be a repeat teacher of the year, champion football coach and principal. He later taught hundreds, likely thousands, how to drive.

Jim Anderson, a 1971 McKinney High School graduate, was in the first fully integrated McKinney ISD class. Evans was his junior high football coach.

“Coach Evans didn’t know what color was,” Anderson said in a tribute video. “I never had a more positive influence than Coach Leonard Evans.”

Clem Daniels, a former Oakland Raider and a member of the Texas Football Hall of Fame, got his start under Evans in the early 1950s at Doty High School, from which Evans also graduated. Daniels couldn’t be at Sunday’s ceremony, but expressed his gratitude in the video.

“I was here and I was a part of the tradition he established at Doty High School,” said Daniels, who taught there in the offseason after his first year in the pros.

The day’s attention – including Scobey’s sermon on remembering legacies – centered on two names joined by a shared mission, threaded through tenacious struggle. Doty taught Evans’ history class for two years. The follower became a leader; the student, a teacher.

“I tried my best to copy most of my life after him,” Evans said. “He stood for everything good.”

The new award is to keep that good relevant. The McKinney Chamber of Commerce is looking at ways to enhance the award’s scope and publicity.

Others to be recognized in coming years will be more names. They’ll be behind more stories otherwise fading – trails blazed decades ago.

“If you extrapolate out a minority community that’s been here for 150-plus years, all of a sudden the trajectory of this city, the landscape, would be changed greatly,” Scobey said. “People want to feel valued, and this is a step in that direction.”