Darden High School graduated its last class in 1970. Within a few years, though, a robust alumni association formed to keep memories of Wilson’s black high school alive. Today, a middle school on Lipscomb Road carries Darden’s name. Across the street from its campus is a small brick building that houses the Darden Alumni Association’s offices. A banquet room, site of nearly weekly wedding receptions, birthday parties or repasts, occupies most of the space. Off that room, a back hall is lined with class photographs dating to the 1920s, depicting generations of the Wilson children who attended Darden, Sam Vick Elementary, and the Colored Graded School (later Sallie Barbour Elementary.)
The earliest pictures hanging in the hall are unlabeled, though recent visitors were able to identify a few of the children whose solemn faces peer out. Here are three.
The first is marked “Wilson Graded School, 1921-22 Second Grade.”
The second is “Graded School, 2nd Grade, 1934-35, Teacher — Miss Robinson.” In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, brickmason Clinton Best, 40; wife Minnie, 30; children Glenwood, 5, Gladis, 15, and James, 12; and lodgers Mary Reid, 21, and Martha Robinson, 25, a public school teachers.
The third carries no label, but boys seated at center hold a banner emblazoned “Second.” Though it is undated, tentative identification of four of the boys — all born in 1931 or 1932 — yields a date of about 1939. If so, the photo was taken just after Sam Vick School opened.
On the first row, third from left, a Freeman (possibly Daniel E.); third from right, a Brodie (either George or Henry); next to him, Jacobia L. Bullock; and, at the end of the row another Freeman (if not Dan, then Joseph Thomas.)