The public schools of Wilson County, part 1.

In 1924, the Wilson County Board of Education published Superintendent Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24. I went looking for a copy today and found one in Google Books. (And, yes, this is the same Charles Coon who slapped Mary C. Euell and thereby sparked the boycott of the Wilson Colored Graded School.)

An examination of two charts in the report led to an epiphany. The first shows white schools in Wilson County in 1917; the second, white schools in 1924, after a consolidation of most one and two-room rural schools and construction of several modern brick buildings. I’d been puzzled by the apparent duplication of black and white school names in newspapers, and I immediately noticed a Lane School in the 1917 chart in the same location as the black Lane School. I looked more closely. Here were Turner, Page, Wilbanks, Pender, Minshew and Ferrells Schools, all later described as “colored.” And the 1924 chart shows none of them. I deduce that after decommission as white schools, these decrepit buildings were handed down to African-Americans for the education of their children.

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A bonus: the report includes photographs of several county schools that housed African-American children!

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