91-year-old retired LaFayette teacher marches in protest of new consolidated high school location

Published 9:30 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

Louise Cox, a 91-year-old LaFayette resident, marched along with the LaFayette Teachers against Displacement during the protest last Monday on Martin Luther King Day.

Cox, who taught at LaFayette High School from 1968 to 1973, has had a long and storied 25 years as a teacher. She also taught at Southern Union State College in Valley for 20 years. In the five years that she taught in LaFayette, she made life-long connections with her students. 

“I have so much love in my heart,” Cox said. “My memories and my love for my students, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to march.”

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When Cox heard about the protest organized by L-TAD, she said she had to be there. She joined her fellow educators at the courthouse and marched arm-in-arm all the way to the steps of LaFayette.

Cox was impressed to see parents and students on the day as well. She said they were very active in the march. 

“I can’t describe it, meeting former students and friends and those teachers,” Cox said. “The atmosphere — it was peace and love.”

At the end of the march, several community members, including Mayor Kenneth Vines, gave speeches at the MLK rally. Cox said the speeches were full of “love and brotherhood and sisterhood.” 

“It started with prayer and ended with prayer,” Cox said. “It was very peaceful. We were going by the MLK way.”

As a former educator, Cox said she supports the consolidation of the high school. Pooling the resources into one school could benefit programs for the students, like more subjects, better sports and more teachers.

“It could be a wonderful thing,” Cox said.

However, like many at the march, she said the school should be in the center of the county. Cox believes that the two communities can unite peacefully in a centralized school.

“You can get along with people no matter the race, the religion,” Cox said.

Cox taught at the high school during the time that the school was being integrated. Cox said as far as she knows, she is the only teacher from this time still alive. When the shift came, Cox said that the transition was smooth — in her classroom at least.

“I had prepared my white students that they were coming and what I expected out of them,” Cox said. “Those five years were some of the most wonderful years of my life.”

Many of her former students continue to reach out to her to this day. She has traveled around the country visiting them from Washington to Massachusets. 

Over the years, Cox has remained an active part of the community. She was a member of the Grandmothers For Peace, a group against nuclear weapons, church activities and other good causes. 

“A group of women can change the world,” Cox said. “We rock the cradle, and we can change the world.”

For three weeks, she visited the Soviet Union during the Cold War and spoke to students. 

She has been involved in many protests in the U.S. relating to unsafe labor conditions, fair wages and rights for the working class for years.

“I just like to be involved in what I call a worthy cause … I’ve worked hard all these years,” Cox said.