Leonard Evans Jr. will always be known as a pioneer in North Texas.
Evans dedicated his life to teaching, to his students and to his craft. That was not an easy task in the beginning, considering Evans was the first African American teacher at an all-white school in McKinney ISD during the desegregation era.
Born in McKinney in 1924, Evans spent his entire life in the city. He graduated from E.S. Doty School, the district’s only school for blacks in 1942.
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According to NBC 5’s partners The Dallas Morning News, Evans was drafted into the Army where he was a radar technician during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
His first job with McKinney ISD was as a bus driver. He went on to teach math and coach several sports at Doty School before becoming the principal.
Evans was still active in his community up until his death in 2018.
He gave a school talk in the district to fourth graders during Black History Month in 2017. During that conversation, he told the kids he was transferred to teach at Finch Elementary, which was an all-white school at the time. It was part of a national movement to integrate schools, but that transition was not a smooth one for so many.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Evans told the kids during that talk that 150 to 200 men were waiting outside the school when he arrived on his first day. He said he didn’t know what their intentions were, but that he depended on the Lord and everything went well.
Evans retired from McKinney ISD after 30 years of service.
Evans died in 2018, but his legacy lives on in the district. In 2004, Evans Middle School on Eldorado Parkway in McKinney was named in his honor.