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Dear Old Dunbar

School Song of Dunbar High School, Earle Arkansas

Dear Old Dunbar

Dad’s High School Song

Both my parents, Clarence and Joetta Powell (Oglesby) were born and raised in Earle, Arkansas (although they didn’t come to know each other and marry until many years later after Dad finished his military duty and Mom migrated north to Chicago, where they met one morning on the El train). They grew up in place where African Americans were consigned by law and terrorism to sharecropping, aka debt slavery. They both attended the local segregated school, Dunbar, and received a debt slave education: the entire school schedule was built around keeping Blacks in the fields. After the 10 room building was erected in 1950-51, my father wrote the school song.

My father did not have the means to college. The school had one scholarship, which went to another student. He went to the newly integrated army instead and rose to rank of Staff Sargent, but not attending college was one of his great life regrets. Years later, when dad was in his 60’s, he attended a Dunbar school reunion. A former classmate approached him and profusely thanked my dad for giving up his scholarship for him. After it became clear that Dad had no idea what he was talking about, it was revealed that his scholarship had been taken from him.

My father wrote the school song as a student. They still sing it at Dunbar class reunions to this day:

Dear Old Dunbar
The school that I enjoy
The school I love so well
Deep within my heart

I’ll never forget
The place I got my start
The place that I love so well
Deep within my heart

Keep marching on
Someday you will find
That the battle is not won
When you leave Dunbar behind

Deep within my heart
It is the school I love
I’ll keep the banner flying high
As a tribute to thy love

By Clarence Powell Jr.
Written the early 1950’s