Circa 1992, the C.H. Darden High School Alumni Association published a pamphlet featuring a short memoir of the school’s long-time principal Edward M. Barnes (1905-2002). Among other things, Mr. Barnes spoke of the school boycott that led to the opening of Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute. Accompanying the text are these remarkable images.
First, another group photograph of the Colored Graded School’s teachers. Eleven teachers walked off the job to protest the superintendent’s assault on Mary C. Euell. Presumably, these are the eleven.
“The Staff of Wilson Graded School c. 1918. Ms. Uzell, the teacher whom the Superintendent slapped. Back Row: 3rd from right.” [The teacher’s name, in fact, was Euell.]
Second, a group photograph of students standing in front of the familiar bay windows and entry door of the Colored Graded School on Stantonsburg Street. The school’s highest grade level was eighth, and this may have been a group of graduating students.
“Our only public school was emptied of all the students” “The Colored Graded School”
Third, and most astonishingly, a photograph of the two-story building that housed Wilson Normal and Industrial School, also known as the Independent School, its lawn and balconies brimming with students and, it appears, parents.
“The Independent School was housed in one of Mr. Sam Vick’s houses on E. Vance Street.”
I am trying to track down the originals of these photographs to share with you. As I have testified repeatedly, the school boycott and creation of the W.N.I.A. were the most revolutionary collective strikes against white supremacy (and, to use a thoroughly modern term: misogynoir) in the history of Wilson County.
In the meantime, here’s W.N.I.A. on East Vance Street in the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson. The shotgun (endway) house at 602 is clearly visible above.
The school building was still standing in 1964, as shown in this close-up of an aerial image of part of Wilson.
However, by time the city was next photographed in 1971, the Independent School building had been demolished.
This apartment building occupies the site today.
Aerial photos courtesy of Wilson County Technology Services Department; photo of 604-606 East Vance Street by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2020.