Naming New Warren Harding High School Football Field
Naming the new Harding High School Football Field after the first African American coach in the former MBIAC, Coach John Lewis, (1939-1989)
The 1960’s were a time of great turmoil and tensions in many arenas of life. The war in Viet Nam was escalating, the Civil Rights Movement was gaining great momentum, the counter culture of free love, drugs, and a Hippie lifestyle touched the lives of thousands of dissatisfied youth.
Despite the racial tensions of America in this era, the City of Bridgeport displayed vision, wisdom, and courage as they appointed the first African American Head Football Coach in Fairfield County at Warren Harding High School, John Lewis. He had been an outstanding three sport athlete while a student at Harding, graduating in 1955. After graduation he accepted an athletic scholarship to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he played 3 sports. After a year of study John Lewis joined the US Marine Corp and served for three years as a Military Policeman. He completed his BA degree In History and continued his football career at Central State in Ohio. After graduation, he completed training camp with the Detroit Lions before being cut due to a quota for African American players in place at that time.
Coach Lewis started his coaching career as an assistant at Bassick High school. In the Fall of 1968 Coach Lewis began a distinguished career as both a teacher and coach at his alma mater. In fact during his years at Harding he became far more than a committed and creative coach. He coached the football team from 1968-1989 and won the MBIAC title three times. John Lewis was not just an excellent coach, he was a mentor, father figure, role model, and inspiration to countless students both Black and White. He taught discipline on and off the field. He monitored the classroom grades and behavior of his players and held them to a standard of integrity. Even star players were benched if they violated team expectations. He was not just developing players, he was shaping lives. Many of his players went on to distinguished careers as teachers, computer specialists, businessmen, coaches and clergy.
As we are presently in the second decade of the 21st Century, racial tensions once again have permeated our nation. This is a wonderful opportunity for the City of Bridgeport to again display courage and vision in naming the new football field on the campus of the newly constructed Warren Harding High School after one of its most impactful alumni.
the undersigned, would like to propose that the new football field at Warren
Harding High School be named LEWIS FIELD, to honor this outstanding coach who
demonstrated excellence in his profession and genuine care for his players.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED BY THREE FORMER PLAYERS,
Dr. James Seymour, (Harding Class of 1970…QB and tri-captain 1969 football team) Professor Saint Augustine’s University and Pastor North Haven Church, Raleigh, NC BA Secondary Education Southeastern University; MA Community Counseling Fairfield University; Doctor of Ministry Degree Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, Tacoma, Washington
Mark Perkins (Harding Class of 1972…All State guard and linebacker 1969-1971). Thirty seven year educator in both Connecticut and NJ. Football coach at six high schools over the years. BS 1976 UCONN Education Teaching the Handicapped, MA candidate in Guidance and Counseling, University of Bridgeport.
Herb Williams (Harding Class of 1970…wingback 1968-69 football team) Expert Systems Engineer, Allscripts Healthcare Systems. BS Computer Science Quinnipiac University, MBA Sacred Heart University