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How Yvonne Lee Odom changed Palm Beach County Schools forever

Yvonne Lee Odom describes photos of her intramural basketball teammates at Seacrest High School (now Atlantic High) in Delray Beach.
Wilkine Brutus
Yvonne Lee Odom describes photos of her intramural basketball teammates at Seacrest High School (now Atlantic High) in Delray Beach.

In Delray Beach, Yvonne Lee Odom isn’t just known as tennis star Coco Gauff’s grandmother. She’s known as Ms. Odom — the veteran teacher who desegregated Palm Beach County schools as a student.

A month before her granddaughter won the U.S. Open, Yvonne was given a Back to School Day proclamation by the Delray Beach City Commission. It honored her 45-year teaching career and role in the city’s history.

On the first day of school in 1961, Yvonne became the first Black student to attend the all-white Seacrest High School, now Atlantic Community High.

It was 7 years after Brown versus Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools.

She was deemed an ideal candidate by school district officials. Likely for some of the same reasons her granddaughter Coco has become a tennis star. They could push past adversity and stay focused on the prize.

On the Sept. 25 episode of Sundial, Odom joined WLRN's Palm Beach County reporter, Wilkine Brutus, to talk about how she's celebrating her wins. Find more of his reporting on this story here.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with the owners of South Florida BBQ spot, Smoke & Dough, about how their true Miami barbecue landed them on the New York Times' annual list of the 50 restaurants in America.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Helen Acevedo, a freelance producer, is a grad student at Florida International University studying Spanish-language journalism, a bilingual program focused on telling the stories of diverse communities.
Elisa Baena is an associate producer for Sundial.