By Blake Spurney
NEWTON – A committee looking into a display at Lindley Hall got closer to developing more concrete ideas for a display during a Feb. 23 meeting.
Albert Martinez said he had been thinking about a permanent display that was simple enough that children could grasp some of it.
Brad Anderson suggested having a mural of a basketball game, with Latino and African-American players looking on from the sides.
“That would be a heck of a picture,” Luke Edwards said.
Andy Ortiz referred to the digital display of former players at Wichita State University’s Koch Arena. He said he was thinking about the feasibility of creating an interactive display similar to that. He said such a display would last forever and not be just painted on the wall. He also said he wanted to keep a record of the committee’s work just so something doesn’t “get lost in translation” if something were to happen.
The committee plans on meeting next week at Lindley Hall for a site visit. A key focus for the committee is deciding who gets recognized in the display. Martinez asked how the committee would decide which players could possibly make the Newton High School basketball team before 1952 when head coach John Ravenscroft integrated the team.
Edwards brought up Clifford Rickman, who was not allowed to play. He said no one could answer the question about whom might have made the team except for Bernie Castro and Floyd Barnett, who did so.
Anderson said he thought one would have to visualize the whole team. He noted the seven-year gap from when Lindley retired as coach to when Ravenscroft accepted non-white players.
Edwards said the only thing he knew was that Lindley retired as a school administrator in 1951.
“If there’s any correlation to that, I don’t know,” he said.
Ortiz said the committee needed to communicate its message in a healing voice. He said the
“Do we know the heart of the man? I don’t know, but I want to find out in this process,” he said.
Edwards pointed out that Newton’s Latino team went 36-5 and won a state title in 1950.
That steered the discussion toward other teams that Newton’s African-American and Latino teams played.
Brenna Haines asked if other communities created tributes to their segregated teams.
Anderson said the whole thing about Lindley and why he received so much attention was because of how successful his teams were.
Edwards said the “colored team” had to play teams out of state, like Tulsa. He then shared the USD-373 Board of Education minutes about the committee’s task. The board voted against removing Lindley’s name from the building on a split vote in November 2019. The board approved adding an information display of Lindley’s discriminatory practices.
Ortiz said he really loved the committee’s discussion on what other teams Newton was playing. He said he heard people say they were embarrassed about being from Newton, but they’re missing the big picture. He said segregation was happening across the nation. He also said there was nothing wrong with talking about Newton’s neighbors, which also had segregated teams.
Anderson noted that Robert Phillips hadn’t attended the committee’s first two meetings and asked if it was time to look at finding a new member.
Ortiz said he would visit with Phillips.