Mansura’s first African-American valedictorian recalls achievement

The Mansura High Class of 1972 will celebrate their 50th class reunion this year.
Milton Lester Alexander was the first African-American valedictorian at the school in 1972. Velma James graduated as salutatorian of the class.
Alexander recalled his historic class experience with the following submission:
Until about the year 1969 we, as black students, were not allowed to attend all white high schools in Avoyelles Parish until the state forced the schools to comply with desegregation laws that were passed years before the above date.
Since then, our young children (black, white, and brown), are growing up confused and mentally misled. They see, and get exposed to, a majority of people of high positions or positions of authority that are of a same race. Psychologically, this causes them to think this is the way it should always be or should always look.
For those of you who wonder why I am writing this article now instead of during Black History Month, I will list the following reason:
1. May 19 marks the 50th anniversary of our Mansura High Class of 1972.
2. Black History Month comes and goes every year and not much is acknowledged locally. The Avoyelles Parish School Board was made aware of this historical event during this year’s Black History Month.
3. Our young children have seen a black president, vice-president, congressmen, congresswomen, etc. They probably associate these achievers with characters on television or social media. They should see more local people, acknowledging their accomplishments-people they can relate to, people attending their churches, people shopping where they shop, people saying hello to them while passing by etc. Many times they see mug shots or allegations of criminal activities.
4. I am attempting to inspire more of our people to write about their family’s accomplishments- especially historical accomplishments
5. All children should have knowledge of the historical moments and accomplishments of their parish, state, and area regardless of the facts that are revealed.
What makes this accomplishment more historical, special and unique? Milton’s daughter, Quinette Alexander Brown, later graduated as the first African-American valedictorian of her senior class at Avoyelles High School – a formerly all white school in Moreauville.
Two consecutive generations of black valedictorians at formerly all white high schools in Avoyelles Parish.

Listed below are the class members:

Mansura High School
Class of 1972
Milton Alexander-valedictorian
Velma James-salutatorian

Chris Batiste
Calvin Berry
Gerald Berzart
Marc Bordelon
Wiltz Bordelon
Quintin Demouy
Gary Gaspard
Jarvis James
Terrence James
Michael Kelone
Errol Laborde
Keith Lemoine
Paul Lemoine
Vernon Lemoine
Alton McGee
David Mitchel
Daniel Murray
Gary Ponthier
Glen Rachel
Bobby Roy
Kirby Roy, III
Donald Sampson
James Sampson
Leo Sampson
Francis Sarpy
Louis Schexnyder, Jr.
Charles Taylor
Paul Thomas
Rose Augustine
Gayle Beauclaire
Irma Brown
Genevieve Carmouche
Mildred Coco
Linda Desoto
Marion Doty
Virginia Francisco
Barbara James
Juanita James
Patricia James
Thelma James
Eunice Jones
Debra Juneau
Cynthia Laborde
Gail Lemoine
Abigail McKinley
Angeline Morris
Mary Prevot
Ursula Prevot
Barbara Sampson
Gail Sampson
Brenda Scallan
Veronica Seiss
Iris Turner
Naomi Tassin
Ann Truex

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