For the second time in recent months Frankfort High is going “old school” to recognize and embrace its storied athletic past.

During Black History Month back in February, the Panthers boys basketball team suited up in the uniforms of Mayo-Underwood, a former city high school for African Americans that closed in the mid-1950s, to pay tribute to former generations of athletes. It was a simple gesture that helped spark another project — the FHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

Shortly after the Mayo-Underwood Throwback Night festivities, Mac Yocum, curator of the FHS Traditions Center; Craig Foley, assistant principal and head football coach; and Jackie Duvall, athletic director, began their four-month search for inductees.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the trio — who took on the monumental task of sifting through more than 50 years of athletic history — had whittled the inaugural class to 35 inductees. This year’s honorees, who participated from 1909-1964, include three who donned Mayo-Underwood’s black and gold on the hardwood — J.B. Brown, Willie Washington and George Tall.

While the Hall of Fame is open to more than just athletes (coaches, benefactors and administrators are also included), they must be 10 years removed from the school before being considered eligible. Criteria for athletes was based on whether they were named all-state, were player of the year in their respective sport, held state records or went on to athletic success after their school years.

Following a ceremony to honor the inductees prior to the start of the Frankfort-Lynn Camp Hall of Fame Bowl football game at Sower Field on Aug. 23, the Hall of Fame will be on permanent display at the F.D. Wilkinson Gymnasium to inspire future generations of Panthers.

We applaud those folks involved in both projects, which serve as a reminder that we must honor our heritage and those who came before us. As Marcus Garvey put it, “A people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

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