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Whitlock looks back on first integrated season at Warren County High School

Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 10:18 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Charles Whitlock Jr. was a member of the first integrated basketball team at Warren County High School, presently known as Warren Central.

“1963 was the first year of integration for thins part of the country, for Bowling Green anyway,” Whitlock said. “So I had to attend the Warren County High School.”

Whitlock and his family moved to Bowling Green from Henderson Kentucky in 1961. He attended his sophomore and junior year at High Street High School until coming to WCHS for his senior year in 1963-1964. Whitlock was a two-sport athlete, competing in basketball and track and field.

“I was a point guard so I was a floor general, Whitlock said. “So I looked out for everybody else.”

Originally, Whitlock had no plans on playing basketball in his final year of high school.

“I remember listening to the radio at night and I heard them talking about the new black players that are going to be coming from High Street to Warren County High School,” Whitlock said. “I remember the coach saying that ‘before I coach a bunch of you know what’s I’ll quit’ and that’s what he did.”

However, the new coach for the Dragons, Andrew Renick, was able to convince him not to hang up his jersey just yet.

“Andy Renick came looking for me,” Whitlock said. “So he was the reason that I stayed around and played basketball. He was a good person to all of us.”

On the court, Whitlock said he didn’t experience racial prejudices from his teammates.

“No, we came together as a basketball team,” Whitlock said. “I wish we could’ve had one more year together but I was a senior and I had to move on. We had good times together. We didn’t have a winning season but we worked hard, we had a good coach, we went to the quarterfinals in the district. But like I said I wish we could’ve had another year. We’d have been much better. It was a different experience but it’s basketball.”

Eighteen months after graduating from WCHS, Whitlock was recruited to play basketball for West Kentucky State.

“That was probably the highlight of my life was to go to college and continue my education and also get to play college basketball,” Whitlock said.

Whitlock graduated from West Kentucky State in 1967. He played semi-professional basketball for two years after graduating.

Whitlock has been working in construction for the last 54 years. One of the most important life lessons he says he’s learned is simply to show up.

“If you just show up, somebody will always help you,” Whitlock said. That’s the way it was with me.”

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