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The iconic Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School in West Palm Beach was segregated until 1970–even though the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in 1954 with its Brown v. Board of Education decision. This past weekend, the Class of 1959 celebrated its 60th anniversary at Benvenuto Restaurant in Boynton Beach. And they were different. In a good way. They were healthy, lucid, hardworking and respectful. Strong. They told stories about their teachers, those who cussed—not cursed; cussed—at them, or grabbed them by their shirts, or bossed them around with frowns on their faces. But those same teachers also supported them to the extreme, these students said, ensured they understood what to expect as they aged and led them to success. Consider the two men in the picture: Nelson Dozier and Samuel McDonald. Mr. Dozier, a classmate, is founder and owner of Dozier Electric, now in its 55th year of success as a small, family-owned business that provided work for his brothers, his son, his nephews, ex-felons–and college degrees for his three daughters. He was keynote speaker. He and #Team1959 also recognized the 64 classmates who’d passed away of the total 116 who graduated, and one of their teachers, Mr. McDonald. The now-92-year-old Mr. McDonald walked to the microphone on his own. He spoke; they applauded. The respect could be felt in the room. His main point: I sure miss what we had. The response? A standing ovation.