Black History Month has come to an end but our series wouldn’t be complete without the mention of a man who has worked countless hours to keep the history of Baytown’s George Washington Carver High School alive.
If you spend a few minutes with Joseph Warren Singleton, you will learn a rich and deep history that would be forgotten about if it wasn’t for him. In fact, he has a traveling exhibit in the Walker Community Center about Carver High School. Make sure to sign his book if you visit. But before we digger deeper as to why Mr. Singleton became a local historian, we should learn more about his past.
Warren was born in Louisiana but was raised in the McNair Station community. His grandparents on both sides of the family were sharecroppers and stayed in Louisiana when Singleton’s parents moved to Texas. Warren went to the all-black Harlem Elementary School in McNair Station and would attend the historical George Washington Carver High School in Baytown. While in high school, Warren was usually in a suit and tie when he wasn’t playing for the football team or running on the track team. When he wasn’t winning awards in sports, he was winning them for industrial arts. In his four years of high school, He was honored more than 25 times for his artwork. In fact, he holds the record of more state awards than anyone else in Carver High School history.
Mr. Singleton would spend most of his adult life working for the Gulf/Chevron Cedar Bayou Chemical Plant and was the first black man to be promoted to shift supervisor. When he wasn’t working, he was still helping in the community, whether it was being a track coach for young children (Baytown Track Club) or assisting local groups and associations, including the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association. Warren is also a proud member of the Knights of Peter Claver. After he retired in 2000, he still felt like there was more for him to do.
Singleton said, “When I retired, I decided to travel but asked God to lead the way. God helped me uncover the history of Carver High School.”
It might have been God’s work, but it was done through Warren’s hands. His dedication to Carver High School has never wavered. Warren created the non-profit Baytown Carver High School Recognition & Preservation Society. It was his fear that the history of this school would be forgotten about because the building doesn’t exist. His hard work eventually prompted the state to recognize the school with an official historical marker. He said, “I spent 600 hours of research on my high school before submitting 381 pages of documentation before requesting the marker. Ask anyone and they will tell you that none of this would have been done had it not been for my work.” The marker is one of Warren’s most proud moments in his retired life.
So, what does Joseph Warren Singleton do now? He spent all of February working shift-worker hours on his Carver High School exhibit. Over the years he has collected items for his collection that were forgotten about. If it has a historical tie to the school, Warren is going to find it. People have reached out from other states with memorabilia and he hopes the exhibit will continue to grow. He’s also a writer and has had more than 350 articles published in area newspapers. He’s hoping to write a book or series of books on the history of Carver High School, including its important leaders, dedicated teachers, legendary coaches, and former students who have made incredible contributions in Baytown and around the world. In fact, Warren and other former Carver graduates will be honored during this year’s Juneteenth Celebration.
Even though he’s not the track star he once was, Mr. Singleton is not showing any signs of slowing down. He said, “As long as the good lord wants me here, I’ll keep doing his work.”