The B. L. Moor Alumni Association will commemorate the 55 Year Legacy of B. L. Moor High School, a public school that was dedicated to the instruction of Black students in Starkville and southeastern Oktibbeha County. The school was shut down in 2002 but re-emerged that same year as East Oktibbeha Consolidated High School and continued to function until it was closed for the final time in 2015 by the state.
As part of the Juneteenth 2023 celebration, the alumni group will reconvene in a tribute to the history, remembrance, reflection, recognition, and excitement, said Jackie Ellis, president of the alumni association.
B. L. Moor High School once stood as one of the institutional foundations that helped forge a common identity within the Black community of Starkville and East Oktibbeha County. Built in 1960, it was named for a white former school superintendent, Buford L. Moor, instead of being given the name Pleasant Grove High School that was preferred by the majority of the Black community, according to Ellis.
The main event is the Legacy Ball that begins at 7 p.m. on June 17 at the MSU Mill Conference Center in Starkville. Beginning at 6 p.m. the same evening, the sponsoring group plans to record personal biographies of the alumni members for a filmed documentary.
Moor has a long list of remarkable men and women in its history of service. Among these are Drs. Derick Edwards, Kenny Edwards, Arthur Johnson, Devita Stallings, and football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, a 1981 graduate of B. L. Moor.
Included on the list of notables are Dr. Walter Conley, the superintendent of East Oktibbeha Consolidated Schools for 20 years, and former State Rep. Tyrone Ellis, class of 1964, who served in the House of Representatives for 38 years.
“In spite of the loss of the opportunity to continue using the B. L. Moor property in the community after having it for so many years as a symbol of our heritage and culture,” Ellis said, “the memories will forever be cherished honored and recognized with great pride.”
Starkville’s Moor High School opened in 1960, but closed under its new name East Oktibbeha Consolidated High in 2015. (Photo: B. L. Moor Black Alumni Association)
The alumni group gave an example of the life experiences of the graduates of B. L. Moor High it plans to document on film. Joseph Jones, class of 1972, for example, shared his journey as a student.
“B. L. Moor was and will always be my book of life,” says Jones. “Looking back on that wonderful time of my life, I was inspired to write a book of poetry, long thereafter.”
Jones, nevertheless, had a wide range of experiences in high school, and found that some would lead to bad outcomes.
“When I was in 10th or 11th grade and on the football team, one evening at football practice I, along with a very close friend, got caught after hours inside the closed cafeteria. No reason whatsoever for doing it, but we were young fools who thought it was just a fun thing to do. Yes I paid dearly.
“I will never stop loving the time spent at B. L. Moor as a very young child and then growing up as a teenager. Remembering all of those special days, times spent with classmates and friends, it was like being on an island of pure happiness, over a short span of eleven years.
“Making true friends for life is something that I will always cherish, even to this day, some 62 years later. It seems as if it was just yesterday. We had some of the best loving principals, teachers, janitors, cooks, bus drivers, and many more community and supporting staff members who cared for us as if we were all one big happy family.
“I received the best education from the best. That overall teaching has never left my fiber. It is etched in my heart.
“Thank you B. L. Moor High and family. I will always remember and love you. You made me the person I am today.”
In addition to the June 17 Legacy Ball at the Mill Conference Center, the alumni association plans to record personal biographies of the alumni for a filmed documentary.
On June 19, representatives of the State Department of Archives and History will designate B. L. Moor an official historic site. And an MDAH historic site marker will be unveiled June 19 at the B. L. Moor campus as part of the ceremonies.
A Moor Legacy website with a Mississippi University for Women research assistant responsible for researching and digitizing the history of African American education in Southeast Oktibbeha will soon be available.
A book detailing the untold story of the 55 year legacy of B. L. Moor and the surrounding community is also in the works.
For further information, contact Jacqueli Ellis: firstname.lastname@example.org.