Ken Bangs Recalls Integration in Plano
Ken Bangs was an influential player on the Plano football team from 1964 - 1966. He remembers being proud of how well Plano handled integration compared to other parts of the country. "My mother worked at the Duchess Cafe," he said. "When black people would come in, they would go to the kitchen and wat or pick up [food]. We were in a small southern town. There was a separation. It would be a lie to say there was not. But there was not a living animosity. If you look back over the years why are you surprised? Because that's the way it was. It seemed natural."
When Bangs attended Texas Western College, which is now known as the University of Texas-El Paso, he recalled sitting in the living center of his dorm watching race-related riots on TV. "It was a shock to me. We didn't have that kind of thing [here in Plano]. [But there] we were divided, and things we said...it was white against black."
"When I went to college...the year before, they had won the national championship with an all-black basketball team," he added. "And the racial tension! Football players lived in their own dorms. Basketball players lived in their own dorm. But the racial tension was so...even with the team it was so pronounced. When we traveled, there was a lot of racial tension with us taking lots of black players into the restaurant and hotels. Separation there was very strong. On the field, we performed together, but we weren't together. There was still a lot of resentment about the way the national championship was won. The coach purposefully started five [African American] players and told the white players they were not going to play. That's not a team." He also recalled that when playing football in Plano, he and his teammates were always taught to be a cohesive unit and not to focus on themselves.