Tupelo in Lee County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Robins Field / High School Football During Segregation
—Heritage Trails Enrichment Program —
Built in 1927, Robins Field was named for former Tupelo Mayor D.W. Robins and served as the Tupelo Schools' football field until 1991. On Friday nights, the all-white Tupelo High School Golden Wave football team played here, while the state champion all-black Blue Devils of Carver High School played at Robins Field on Saturday nights. In much of the South and Mississippi, black schools often had separate, inferior, no football facilities. In Tupelo, even before desegregation, crowds both African-American and white showed up to see the Carver Blue Devils exciting football games and to hear the award-winning "G.W. Carver Band" under the direction of career educators Benjamin Branch, and later Walter Partlow. Tupeloan Mearion Smith reminisced "When the band paraded down the streets, black people and white people again united on common grounds along the streets and sidewalks to watch the 'G.W. Carver Band' strut down the parade route." Following full integration of the Tupelo school system, Tupelo High School academic, football and track star Frank Dowsing played on this field and in so doing generated goodwill and broke racial barriers. Dowsing went on to become one of Mississippi State University's first two African-American athletes, setting records as a defensive back and kick returner
Football has always been a special pastime in the South, and perhaps high school football most of all. In a 2006 study conducted by USA Football and the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, Mississippi was distinguished as having the best high school football in America. Mississippi high school football was and is more than just a sport; it is a source of immense pride and great rivalries. High school football in the black community during segregation, operating in the all-black Magnolia State High School Activities Association, was no different. With few if no black players on collegiate or National Football League rosters, black high school football teams became symbols of success. The young black stars on the field were heroes across the entire community. These young athletes served as role models for young boys and provided hours of conversation in barbershops and other gatherings as every down was replayed and analyzed. These athletes were under intense scrutiny to do the right thing and represent themselves, their family and their communities to the best of their abilities, both on and off the field.
Erected 2015 by the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 517 North Madison Street, Tupelo MS 38804, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church / A Strong Voice in the Civil Rights Struggle in Tupelo (approx. 0.3 miles away); Tupelo Baptist Church / Kind Treatment for the Wounded (approx. 0.4 miles away); Lee County Library (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mayhorn Grocery (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Presbyterian Church (USA) (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Green Street Business District / Social Hub (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Dixie Belle Theater / The March of Discontent (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Younger Cabin / Confederate Headquarters (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tupelo.
More about this marker. Part of the Tupelo Civil Rights and African American Heritage trail.
Also see . . . Marking history: Pre-integration football at Robins Field commemorated. (Submitted on April 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Education • Sports •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 152 times since then and 50 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.