Requiem for a Classic

Dr. Thurman W. Robins


Established during the era of Jim Crow and a segregated society the Jack Yates and Phillis Wheatley High Schools met in an annual football classic which was the largest attended schoolboy game in America.

The two teams began their yearly play in 1927.  The classic battles on Thanksgiving Day didn’t begin until 1935, and they continued on Thanksgiving until 1966.

The Classic was filled with excitement as there were a myriad number of events surrounding the contest.  There were marching bands, drill squads, other performing groups, an annual parades, pep-rallies, dances and even a yearly breakfast to celebrate the affair.  The halftime ceremonies were as important as the game itself. One of the highlights of halftime was the crowning of the school’s queens.

The Thanksgiving Day Classic came to a swift end with the integration of public schools in Texas, as most 3A high schools began play under the University Interscholastic League (UIL) governance in 1967.  The UIL playoff format required that all district games be completed by the second week of November therefore, the Thanksgiving Classic became defunct.