Indiana 1955 Attucks-Roosevelt Tribute Gets National Attention
November 21, 2013 — One local high school is garnering national attention for a moment that happened more than fifty years ago, as Gary is gearing up to welcome back a few local legends of the basketball court: National Basketball Association star Oscar Robertson and two-time NBA champion Dick Barnett.
Gary Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chuck Hughes says, “They competed with a high level of pride. They exhibited tremendous sportsmanship, because they knew what was at stake. They knew the nation of the eyes and the world, and particularly the state of Indiana, was on them.”
At this year’s CN Lakeshore Classic history will repeat itself, as the national TNT cable television network covers a high school basketball tribute game to the 1955 state championship match between Gary’s Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy and Indianapolis’ Crispus Attucks High School.
Their 1955 game was the first state championship featuring two all-black teams in the nation, with Oscar Robertson playing for Attucks and Dick Barnett for “The ‘Velt.”
Educators say the re-match is a teachable moment for young basketball fans.
Roosevelt Principal Donna Henry says, “Roosevelt has a very rich history, athletically, academically, and so many great people have come from that school, and, so, this is a great opportunity for the students not only to make the connection between the social issues during that time but, really, what is the tradition they come from, what they are a part of, and so they really are a part of this Roosevelt tradition, and for them to bring it back to the forefront of their minds.”
Hughes says, the match between Gary Roosevelt and Crispus Attucks has been called the game that changed basketball, and it also changed history, “This was an era that preceded a young Morehouse grad that rose to acclaim as Dr. Martin Luther King. It preceded the Civil Rights Act. It preceded a lot of things.”
As part of the week’s festivities, students at Roosevelt are competing in an essay contest about race relations in 1955. Roosevelt shooting guard Laparis Hodges says he respects the lesson learned in playing the game.
“I think it’s about…a tradition… I think it’s great that we have a lot of basketball players that come from Roosevelt because that means, we were good in the past, and we got to keep the tradition going.”
CN Lakeshore Classic events start next Friday at noon at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary. Ticket information is available at www.garychamber.com.
By Hilary Powell