How Tennis Star Coco Gauff's Grandmother, Yvonne Lee Odom, Broke Barriers

How Tennis Star Coco Gauff’s Grandmother, Yvonne Lee Odom, Broke Barriers as the First Black Student at Delray Beach’s Seacrest High in 1961

Tennis star Coco Gauff’s success is built on a family legacy of breaking barriers.

Her grandmother, Yvonne Lee Odom, made history in 1961 as the first Black student to attend Delray Beach’s all-white Seacrest High School.

Pioneering Integration in Palm Beach County

At just 15 years old, Yvonne Lee took on a monumental task. She left the all-Black Carver High to integrate Seacrest High School. This brave act came seven years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

Lee’s father, Rev. R.M. Lee, recognized her potential as an ideal candidate. Her academic and athletic prowess made her a strong choice to challenge segregation. “We were trying to get the top kids so they could not say we were dumb,” he explained.

A Brave First Day at Seacrest High

On September 25, 1961, Lee entered Seacrest High amid tight security. Despite the tense atmosphere, she remained composed. “I was just going to school,” Lee later recalled to The Palm Beach Post. “I wasn’t afraid. If they told me to integrate, I was going to integrate.”

Lee arrived at 10 a.m., after other students were in class. She met her student “buddy,” Paula Adams, who escorted her. Principal Robert Fulton, whom Lee described as “nice,” also greeted her in the faculty lounge.

Challenges and Triumphs in a New Environment

While Lee’s first day was largely uneventful, she faced challenges. She initially agreed not to play sports or ride the school bus for safety reasons. However, she refused to use a separate bathroom in the faculty lounge.

By her 1964 graduation, Lee was joined by four other Black classmates. Her experience taught her a valuable lesson: “By attending Seacrest for three years, I found that people are people, no matter what. You’ve got the good, bad and ugly, regardless of the race.”

A Legacy of Education and Community Service

Following her groundbreaking high school years, Lee pursued a career in education. She earned degrees from Florida Atlantic University and Nova University. Lee went on to teach math at Carver Middle School.

Lee’s commitment to education and community service extended to her family. She and her husband founded the Delray Beach American Little League. This initiative brought baseball to predominantly Black neighborhoods previously overlooked.

Inspiring Future Generations

Coco Gauff has spoken about her grandmother’s influence. “I learned a lot about her stories,” Gauff told the Miami Herald in 2020. Lee’s courage and perseverance continue to inspire, not just her famous granddaughter, but countless others.


Celebrate the strength and resilience of those who came before us. Coco Gauff’s grandmother paved the way for change, breaking down barriers in her own community. She fearlessly became the first Black student at Delray Beach’s Seacrest High School back in 1961. Just like Yvonne Lee Odom, we all have stories of courage within us that deserve to be shared. Let this incredible journey inspire you to embrace your identity with pride and celebrate your connection to Africa through thoughtful, stylish wear. At AWBIM, we believe that fashion is a powerful tool for self-expression. Our collection embodies African heritage while seamlessly blending into both professional and casual settings – because our lives are as versatile as our wardrobe choices. Join us on this empowering path towards embracing who you are and where you come from – just like Coco Gauff proudly represents her roots on tennis courts worldwide. 🌍🔥💪 #EmbraceYourStory #ProudToBeWhoWeAre #cocogauff #racialinjustice #berevolutionary #yvonneleeodom

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