The Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) played a leading role in developing African American students in the arts, literature, athletics and music from the 1920's through 1967.

Originally called the Texas Interscholastic League of Colored Schools, the PVIL served as the governing body for extra-curricular activities for Texas' African American high schools. The history of the Prairie View Interscholastic League began in 1920 when the League was organized by the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas and the Negro School Division of the State Department of Education. In 1923, the TILCS came under the authority of Prairie View A&M College, thereby becoming the Prairie View Interscholastic League. The structure and format was similar to the University Interscholastic League (UIL). PVIL competition included athletics, typing, declamation, music and extemporaneous speaking.

The PVIL staged state championship games in football, basketball, baseball, and track. At its peak, it enrolled 500 schools. Many famous former PVIL students include Barbara Jordan,

Debbie Allen, Doris Miller, Gene Upshaw, Charley Taylor, and Joe Greene. The PVIL proudly served as the main academic and athletic competition organization for Texas' African American students for half of the 20th Century.

Jacksonville’s very own, Marshall Johnson was recognized by the Prairie View Interscholastic League. Marshall attended Fred Douglass High School. He was a three-year starter in football, basketball, and participated in track two years. As quarterback, under the coaching of Lawrence LaCroix and Vert McClendon, Marshall was named All-District team each of the three years. The Dragons were Runner Up in 1969. During basketball, under Coach LaCroix and Coach B.T. Finley, Marshall was named to the 3-A All Star team as a freshman and All-District his sophomore and junior years.

As a member of the PVIL Basketball State Championship teams in 1969 and 1970, Marshall was named MVP both years. At the PVIL State Track Meet in 1970, Marshall won 1st place in the 100 yard dash, 1st place in the 220 yard dash, and 1st place in the 440 yard relay.

Marshall served as class president for three years at Fred Douglass. After integration, he attended Jacksonville High School, where he earned state and district honors and elected Senior Class President...graduating in 1971.

Marshall entered the University of Houston in 1971. He played football, basketball, and ran track. As a running back, he was the leading freshman rusher in the state. In 1975, he was drafted by the NFL Baltimore Colts. He played for the Colts four years.

After his professional football years, Marshall became an entrepreneur and achieved financial independence in his mid-20s. He now invests his time and efforts in mentoring and coaching others. Currently, Marshall resides in the Houston area.

Now, Michael Hurd, historian and author (" Black College Football, 1892-1992 ") and also a PVIL alumnus (E.E. Worthing, 1967), are documenting the PVIL's rich history and you can help.

Contact him at michael@pvilca.org with your memories of attending a PVIL school and send images (for careful scanning and return) to be used in the book. Or, print and complete this short questionnaire and submit to the PVILCA.

Recommended for you