A Special #tbt to Honor Black History Month
Lynne Marie Rankin-Cochran
On Friday, September 27, 1968, Middletown High School celebrated its annual “Homecoming.” Little did the school and city know that history would be made that clear, cool autumn evening.
It was a traditional event : the Middie marching band, a parade of floats, convertibles bearing homecoming queen candidates, float judges and local dignitaries. All were destined for Barnitz Stadium, where the Mighty Middies would battle Bishop Ready High School for a win. The big game and halftime ceremonies would soon be underway.
At halftime something momentous happened. When the homecoming queen’s crown was placed upon the head of senior Lynne Rankin, her place in Middletown history was established. At that moment the daughter of Charles and Grace Rankin became the first African American to be crowned homecoming queen in the history of Middletown High.
The memorable event was captured in photos that can be found in the 1969 Middletown High School yearbook, The Optimist. Lynne and her escort, Bradley Moore, are pictured. According to the yearbook, “After the crowning all candidates mounted the purple and white Queen’s float constructed by the Student Council and circled the field. Then the candidates returned to their seats to see Middletown defeat Bishop Ready 14-8.”
Twenty-five years later Lynne’s royal moment was recalled in a “Black History Month Profile” in the Middletown Journal. Prepared by Louie Cox and the local NAACP, the article updated the community about Lynne’s life : she was educated at Ohio University, where she was named Miss Bronze in 1973, was employed as a flight attendant for TWA and at the time was a homemaker. The article stated that she resided in Sacramento, California, with husband Thomas and their children, Clanci, Camille, Cameron and Courtney.
Lynne passed away in 2013. In an online guestbook several of her mourners referred to Lynne as their “homecoming queen.” Her place in Middletown history had not been forgotten.
If you’re interested in perusing the 1969 Optimist or Optimists from other years, MidPointe Library offers three ways to access them:
Go to http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org and click on “The Optimist - Middletown City School District High School Yearbooks” collection to read Optimists from the years 1913 to 1989. Read at your convenience from any place at any time.
Visit any MidPointe Library location (Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe) to access digital copies of the Optimist from the years 1913 to 2013.
Stop by the Ohio Room at MidPointe Middletown to read physical copies of the Optimist from 1913 to 2013.