Georgia high school’s all black football team recognized for championship 50 years later

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — There is a recognition of excellence 50 years overdue.

A middle Georgia high school football team is finally honored for winning a state championship.

It’s a special honor for a lot of reasons. The least of which revolving around sports -- it’s much deeper than that.

“I think the wrong was that we were not recognized by the school, by the board of education and by the city of Perry,” said Lawrence Clarington.

The welcome sign in Perry, in Houston County reads “Where Georgia comes together.” But in 1969 it was deeply divided.

Clarington remembers how that division denied him a special honor.

“I’ve been crying all morning,” Clarington said. “I thought this day would never come.”

In 8th grade at Houston High School, he and his football team became state champions, a first for Perry. But the victory for the all-black school was only a footnote in the local paper.

No ceremony.

No championship rings.

The students later integrated into Perry High School, the town's white school. That wiped away years of history.

“The trophies and everything that was in that school was thrown away,” Clarington said. “One of the fellows that was a sophomore, he actually decided to go in the dumpster to get the trophy.”

The recovered trophy stood as the only symbol of their triumph, until now.

Fifty years later, the city of Perry finally celebrated Houston high's victory with a special championship ring ceremony.

“I mean It was sweet, sweet,” Clarington said. “Wasn’t nothing bitter about it. It was just sweet and humble.”

Teammates reunited, healing old wounds.