Austin-East High School
|Austin-East High School|
|2800 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue
Knoxville, Tennessee 37914
|School district||Knox County Schools|
Austin-East is the successor to two formerly racially segregated schools, the all-black Austin High School and the all-white East High School. The two schools were combined in 1968 to form the integrated Austin East High School, housed in the East High School building.
Austin High School opened in 1879. It was named for Emily Austin, a white woman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who raised money to establish the school as Knoxville's first black high school. She had arrived in Knoxville in 1870 with the goal of helping to educate African American children, who at the time were schooled in church basements, lodge halls, and one-room schoolhouses scattered throughout the area. For eight years she worked as a grade school teacher in black schools in Knoxville, then she returned to the North to seek donations for establishment of a black high school. She succeeded in raising $6,500, which was matched by $2,000 from the Knoxville Board of Education to start Austin High School.
Edenton, North Carolina, native John W. Manning became school principal in 1881, the first black person to hold that position. An 1881 graduate of Yale University, Manning remained as principal until retiring in 1912. He was succeeded as principal by Charles W. Cansler, who had been teaching at Austin since 1900.
In 1916, Austin High School left its initial location on Central Street in Knoxville to move to a new building on Payne Avenue. At the Payne Avenue location, the school was renamed Knoxville Colored High School. By 1928, that school building had become overcrowded due to a growing African American population, and the school moved to a new location on Vine Street, once again using the Austin High School name. William A. Robinson became school principal in 1928. Robinson served for just two years before moving to Atlanta and being succeeded as principal by Thomas R. Davis. Davis was principal until his death in 1948, when Dean of Girls Fannie C. Clay assumed the position of acting principal until the appointment of Otis T. Hogue as principal in the fall of 1949. In 1952 Austin moved to a new modern building one block from its previous location, remaining there until its merger with East High School.
East High School was one of four schools, the others being West, South, and Fulton, that opened in 1951 following the split-up of old Knoxville High. Initially an all-white school, East began to enroll black students in the early 1960s as the Knoxville city schools underwent a slow process of racial integration. The school graduated a total of 17 classes before its merger with Austin High School in 1968. Its sports teams were called the "Mountaineers."
In 1968 the two schools, which were only some eight to ten blocks apart, were combined to form a single racially integrated high school located in the East High building and named Austin East High School. The Austin school site became the location of Vine Middle School. Following the merger, many white students from East High transferred to other high schools, leaving Austin-East as a predominantly black school.
In 1997, the school received magnet school designation, offering a focus in performing arts, science and math. In spite of the magnet program, which was intended to boost white enrollment, as of 2008-2009 more than 80% of Austin-East's students were African American. After several years of failing to meet performance benchmarks set under the No Child Left Behind Act, in 2008-2009 the school was reorganized into small learning communities.
The Austin-East magnet program in performing arts operates as a "school-within-a-school." Specialized offerings include dance, orchestra, theater, vocal and instrumental music, television broadcasting, professional editing, documentary production, and finance and business.
Austin-East fields interscholastic teams in football, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, cross country, track and field, marching band, wrestling, volleyball, tennis, and golf. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) classifies the school's football team in Class 3A Its sports teams are nicknamed "Roadrunners." The boys' basketball team won the state championship in 1977 (AAA), 1985(AA), and 1987 (AA). The football team won the Class 2A state championship in 1983, 1986, and the Class 3A state championship in 2001. In 2007, Austin-East won the state championship in Class AA girls' basketball. The boys track team won state championships in 1981(AAA) and 1987(A/AA). The girls track team won the A/AA championship in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 2007.
- Daniel Brown, the first African American to serve as mayor of Knoxville, is an Austin High School graduate
- NFL player and executive Joey Clinkscales attended Austin-East in the late 1970s and early 1980s
- Artists Beauford Delaney and Joseph Delaney attended Austin High School in the 1910s.
- Joe Fishback, 1987 graduate, former NFL athlete.
- Poet Nikki Giovanni attended Austin High School from 1958 to 1960.
- NFL player and executive Reggie McKenzie was the valedictorian for the Austin-East Class of 1981. His twin brother, Raleigh McKenzie, also attended Austin-East.
- Football coach Carl Torbush attended East High School and remained at Austin-East after the merger for his senior year, graduating in the merged school's first class. He played several sports in high school and was the first Austin-East football player to receive all-state recognition. Torbush recalls being the only white student on some of his senior-year sports teams.
- Leroy Thompson, 1987 graduate, former NFL athlete, All-American football player who led Austin-East to a football, basketball, and track state championship his senior year.
- NBA player and coach Elston Turner is a 1977 Austin-East graduate who played on the school's 1977 state championship basketball team.
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- Jesse Smithey, "Austin-East Honors Raleigh, Reggie McKenzie," Knoxville News Sentinel, 10 September 2011. Retrieved: 24 March 2013.
- Carl Torbush profile, University of North Carolina Athletics website, accessed April 7, 2011
- About Elston Archived March 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Elston Turner Basketball Camp website, accessed April 9, 2011