TATUM, Texas — This Friday night, the Tatum Eagles will become Panthers to pay homage to the Mayflower School, the all-Black school that integrated into Tatum ISD more than 50 years ago.
The landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, led to the integration of Black schools, like the Mayflower, across the United States and deemed racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
The Tatum High School football team will don blue and gold jerseys with the name Mayflower on the front.
Clifford Harkless is the son of Algie Harkless, who will be recognized on Friday night as a hall of famer, coach and a beloved Tatum native.
While at the Mayflower school, Algie Harkless led the Mayflower Panthers to 47 wins over the stint of seven years, according to Tatum High School.
In honor of the 55th anniversary of the schools’ merger, the Eagles will wear Mayflower jerseys for the first time as they take the field playing against the Pittsburg Pirates.
"Tatum has always been good and athletics, and we've been on the cutting edge ever since integration," Clifford Harkless said.
While the night is all about representing Mayflower and their accomplishments, they also want to take this as an opportunity to educate the public on what Mayflower’s students had to face during integration.
For the team, wearing the jersey is a huge honor.
"We get to pay respect to the people who paved the way for the Black community here in Tatum," senior Drenon Fite said.
Now they hope to lay it all on the field to take their first win of the season wearing the blue and gold.