Mrs. Fitts’ class, part 1.

Taken circa 1931, this beautiful photograph of E. Courtney Fitts‘ class (likely first graders) at the Colored Graded School deserves a closer look. Mrs. Fitts stands in a fur-trimmed coat in front of the school’s double doors, just under the building’s street number — 705. The Colored Graded School was notoriously overcrowded, and all fifty children standing on the steps below her may well were in Mrs. Fitts’ class. 

I am only able to identify three of the children, but I honor them all in this five-part series.

Annie Marian Gay Hawkins (1925-1991).

Lucian Jacob Henderson (1926-2003).



  1. I am so exited to see this picture of my Aunt Courtney and her students! Her first name of Elizabeth has been handed down through her niece Elizabeth Battle Beckett, me (Mae Elizabeth), my daughter (Elizabeth Marguerite) and her daughter (Ella Elizabeth)…four generations.
    Her son Howard Fitts, Jr. is still living at 99 years!

  2. Mrs. Fitts taught second grade at Sam Vick Elementary School when I was a student there. My years were 1953-1959. In the second grade, I was in Mrs. Carole Jones’ room but Mrs. Fitts’ class was next to our class. She was a wonderful person. Her husband was Professor Howard Fitts, Sr., a native of Warren County. He was a classroom teacher at Speight Consolidated School in Wilson County. We were great family friends. Her son, Dr. Howard Fitts, Jr. of Durham is a dear friend and also taught me at N.C. Central University. I will visit Dr. Fitts on his 100th birthday on June 8, 2021.
    G. K. Butterfield
    Wilson Resident
    Member of U.S. Congress
    First Congressional District

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