High school reunions roll by in our lives much like the autumn leaves. We may take notice or we may not, as every year is essentially the same. This year, however, brings a different reunion celebration to Western North Carolina. On Aug. 19-20, the Asheville High School Legacy Class of 1972 will gather to celebrate a cultural milestone for the city and the region.
In August 1969, members of this legacy class walked through the school’s doors under the iconic spire as sophomores, the initial starting class in the history of the new, consolidated Asheville High. Our entrance represented the joining of the city’s Black Stephens-Lee High with the overwhelmingly white Lee Edwards High. The new school — located on the stately 1920s-era grounds of Lee Edwards but with an entirely new social reality — was born.
Three years later, after trials under fire on race relations, student-body governance and social organization, this class emerged as graduates, leaving a strong and lasting imprint for its successors in this new educational experiment.
Of course, one particular day in this journey attracted local, state and national attention. Legitimate grievances unmet led to chaos, though not student against student. For days, the school was shuttered.
Ours was a time of great racial and societal turmoil in the United States. But the legacy class had an advantage. Many were second graders in Asheville City Schools in 1961-62 when the walls of racial segregation finally began to come down in the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education. Many of our parents played an integral role, working with educators and community leaders to foment change and move Asheville forward. As kids, well, we had new schoolmates, teammates and friends. That simple.
After the initial turmoil, trust had to be built. Hard work had to be carried out. The legacy class moved on and coexisted. And in the end, by the time of our graduation in 1972, we created a foundation for future student generations.
In a few days, members of the legacy class will gather again. Some have been lost to us, either through untimely passing or through time and distance. The weekend will feature barbecue and football one night, a dinner/ dance the next. The great interracial music of the times will play again, and old friendships rekindled.
We’ve reached out to track down everyone we could find both near and far, and classmates from 14 states plan to attend. Any who were somehow missed can learn more and join us by contacting email@example.com.
— Tad Boggs
Legacy Class of 1972