Holloway High School, Class of 1940

I recently received a copy of the photo composite for the 1940 graduating class of Holloway High in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Thanks cousin!).  Why is this set of photographs important to me?  Well my grandparents were members of this class and I’ve just added two new late teen aged snapshots of them to my collection!  For those that have followed this site for a while, you’ll note the handsome young man in the lower right hand corner is Wash William Brown, my grandfather.  My grandmother, whom I’ve written about before on this site, has her identity protected here because she is still happily with us in mind, body and spirit!

Holloway High was founded in 1928 and was the only black high school in Murfreesboro, TN at the time.  Many members of my maternal line walked the halls at Holloway High and still attend the annual ‘Red and Black’ affair in Murfreesboro.

Booker S. Brown revisited

One of the moments in my research that elicited pride (there have been many) was the time that I “found” my 2nd Great Grand uncle, Booker Sampson Brown, and his connection to the Civil War.  I was recently re-watching the African American Lives 2 series and watched a similar discovery for Don Cheadle and his family.  You can see it for yourself here.   Here’s Chris Rock having the same joy:

I think a lot of the pride comes from knowing that your ancestors weren’t just victims…. weren’t just dragged along by this holocaust, but actually had the opportunity to put on a uniform, bare arms and fight for the freedom recently granted through war.  It’s not nearly enough to erase the scars, but it gives me something to talk to my kids about when the questions inevitably come.   Something personal.  something beyond Roots, Dr. King and the differences between now and then.

When I visited the African American Civil War Memorial for the first time a few years ago, it struck me that this was a story not often told.  No one ever told me until I went to find it myself.  Over the holidays, I was able to visit again, this time with my Grandmother in tow.  She is Booker’s Great-Grand niece.  She’d never heard the story I’ve been able to piece together either (beyond hearing her Grandfather Hillary speak fondly of his older brother).  Amazing how this stuff teaches the young and the old.

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