Colored Graded School

Colored Graded School ’11 commencement.

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Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1911.

  • Fern Speight
  • Mazie Holland — Mazie Holland Wells. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laundress Charity Holland, 48; and children Charlie, 24, barber; Jane, 20; Mazie and Daisy, 18; Lue, 16; and Lillian, 12.
  • Eva Davis — Eva Mashon Davis Bland. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred M. Davis, 42, Baptist church minister; wife Dianah, 42; children Eva M., 16, Bertha, 15, Fred, 11, Ruth, 13, Addie L., 8, and William B., 5; and mother Jud., 60.
  • Nancy Jones
  • Bathenia Best —Barthena Best Fulcher.
  • Eva Speight — Eva Janet Speight Coley. In the 1910 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: day laborer Jacob Speight, 38, widower; and children Arbelia, 12, Eva, 9, Furnis, 7, and Joseph, 5.
  • Dr. Charles F. Meserve

Efficient, painstaking and polite superintendent marries.

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Wilson Mirror, 19 November 1890.

Frank Oscar Blount married Nettie Amanda Steward in Philadelphia in 1890.

Nettie S. Blount of 926 Lombard Street, aged about 30, died 2 April 1892 in Philadelphia. She was buried in Philadelphia’s Lebanon Cemetery.

Minutes of the school board.

The Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Collection contains a bound transcription of the Minutes of the Wilson Graded School 1881-1887, 1891-1902, compiled by school superintendent Charles L. Coon. Here, with annotations in brackets, are extracts from those minutes.

——

July 14th 1891

The Board met in the offices of F.A. Woodard.

The first order of business was the election of teachers. The following was selected with the salary of each (for colored school). P.O. [F.O.] Blount salary $30.00, Prof. Winstead $25.00, Levi Peacock $25.00, Addie Battle $20.00, Lucy Thompson 20.00

——

Sept 29th 1891

The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard.

The object of the meeting was to hear complaints against some of the Col teachers in Col Graded School viz Levi Peacock and Ida Thompson.

Several Col men were present & urge their dismissal.

The Board discussed the matter & decided unanimous that the charges were not sufficient cause for removal. Nothing further appearing the Board adjourned.

[There are no further clues to the complaints lodged or the reasons “several colored men” urged the dismissals of Levi H. Peacock and Ida Thompson.]

——

Dec. 30th 1891

The Board met in the office of Dr. Albert Anderson.

The first business was the resignation of F.O. Blount, principal of Col. School. On motion resignation was accepted.

B.R. Winstead was elected principal to fill the unexpired term of F.O. Blount.

Annie Washington was elected as teacher in col school to commence on Jany 6th 1892 at $20.00 per month if qualified for the position after examination by supt. Foust. No other business the board adjourned.

——

May 9th 1892

The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard, President.

The first order in business was the election of Supt. & Teachers for the white & colored schools.

Teachers for col. school

B.R. Winstead Principal $30.00, L.H. Peacock $25.00, Annie Washington Vick $25.00, Annie Blake $20.00, Sudie Harris $20.00

——

May 30th 1896

The Board in office at Branch & Co.’s bank, with Gen. Hackney ch’m in chair.

It was stated that the object of the meeting was to elect the teachers of the Colored School. The election resulted as follows:

Principal of building S.A. Smith $30.00 per month

Teachers L.H. Peacock $25.00, G.H. Towe $25.00, Miss Ida Rountree $20.00, Mrs. S.H. Vick $20.00

[Though among the best-educated members of their community, African-American teachers struggled to make ends meet on their salaries. As shown in this 1899 notice of sheriff’s sale, several waited until their property was at risk to pay taxes — or lost it to public auction.]

——

Feb. 10th 97

The Board met in the office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Dr. Moore absent.

Mr. Oettinger moved that the position of Primary Teacher in the Colored School, held by Mrs. S.H. Vick, be declared vacant, owing to her physical inability to fill the place the remainder of the spring. Carried.

Mr. Oettinger moved that Mrs. R.C. Melton be employed to fill out the unexpired term. Carried.

The Committee appointed to arrange for the rental of an additional home for the Colored School, reported that they had investigated the matter & decided not to rent for this spring.

[“Physical inability” appears to have been a euphemism for Annie Washington Vick’s pregnancy with son Daniel, born in 1897.

The crowded conditions of Wilson’s only public school for black children had become acute by 1897, when the school board considered, but rejected, a suggestion to rent a house as an overflow classroom.]

——

Mar 13th, 97

School Board met in office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Mr. Oettinger, Dr. Anderson & Mr. Wootten absent.

Prof. Smith, Prin. of Col. Sch., made a statement as to his understanding of the conditions upon which he took the sch. census of the col. race last year.

After discussion, Dr. Moore moved to reconsider the motion made at a previous meeting, to deduct $16.22 from am’t p’d Prof. Smith for his work) from the last month’s salary, & to deduct only $6.22 thus paying him $10.00 for his services. Carried.

[Each year, a school board representative conducted a survey of school-aged children in its district to determine the need for teachers at each grade level. Occasionally, as noted elsewhere in the minutes, the board would scrap an upper grade for want of students. The root of Simeon Smith’s pay question is not clear.]

——

Feb. 18th, 1898

School Board met in the office of Mr. J. Oettinger, Mr. A.B. Deans absent.

Supt stated that he had called the meeting to consider the crowded condition of affairs at the colored school, and to make arrangements for securing more room.

It was agreed to build at once, a two room addition, 24×50 ft. and place sufficient piazza space for the entire building.

Mr. Oettinger moved that Mr. W.P. Wootten, Dr. C.E. Moore and the Supt. be appointed a committee to have building put up at once. Carried.

[The board finally moved to address the crowding, authorized the building to two new classrooms and a porch.]

——

Mar. 2nd, 98

Called meeting of School Board at office of Mr. A.B. Deans. All present.

Supt. was ordered to purchase desks necessary to properly seat the new building at colored school.

Building comm. reported new building about ready for use.

[It’s hard to imagine that the rooms were thrown up in less than two weeks, but if they were, this seems a testament to poor quality.

——

Aug. 31, 98.

Board met at call of Supt. to elect a teacher for 5th & 6th Grades, Colored School. All present.

Supt. reported that he had held an examination on the 29th inst. at which all applicants were examined.

Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt had stood the best examination, and was duly elected to fill the vacancy at salary of $20.00 per month.

….

[Two months after her hire as a teacher, erstwhile grocer Annie V.C. Hunt was embroiled in a conflict that led to the shooting death of her husband James Hunt in 1900.]

——

Sept. 27, 00.

Board met in extra session, at office of W.P. Wootten. All present except Mr. Oettinger.

Sec’y stated that meeting had been called at request of S.A. Smith, Prin. Col. School, for the purpose of investigating the charges against him, as per rumors being circulated regarding his character by Chas. Barbour.

Chas. Barbour, being called, stated that he had no charges to make against Smith, that he merely wanted Board to discharge his wife, Sallie Barbour, from her position as teacher in Col. School. She had not requested to be allowed to  resign, but he desired her discharged. He gave no valid reason for his wish. Supt. stated that he had no complaints to make against Mrs. Barbour.

Charges against Smith were dismissed, & Barbour was told that Board could not discharge his wife without cause.

[Shortly after this humiliating attempt by Charles Barbour to have his wife discharged from her teaching position, Sallie Barbour filed for divorce. Her petition cited a litany of abuses, including physical violence, and she sought custody of their sons.

——

Nov. 10, 00.

Called meeting of Board held in office of Drs. Moore & Anderson, Mr. Wootten and & Mr. Simms absent.

Sec’y stated that he had been enjoined by S.A. Woodard, Att’y for Chas. Barbour, against paying Mrs. Barbour any further salary.

Upon motion, the Sec’y was instructed to inform Mrs. Barbour that her salary was withheld till she obtained legal order, giving full authority to Board to pay her salary to her alone.

[Failing to get her fired, Barbour secured an injunction prohibiting the school board from paying his wife. The board determined to advise Sallie Barbour that her salary would be withheld until she got a court order making it payable to her alone.]

——

Feb. 2, /01

Meeting of the Board, all present. Sec’y stated that he received the resignation of Mrs. Hunt as teacher of 5th Grade, Col. School.

Resignation accepted to take effect at once.

Motion made that Clarrissy Williams be elected to fill the unexpired term of Mrs. Hunt. Carried.

[The board hired Clarissa Williams to fill the position vacated by Annie Hunt when she left Wilson. Williams would prove to be a loyal employee, declining to resign in the wake of the Coon-Euell slapping incident and serving briefly as colored school principal when J.D. Reid was forced out.]

——

Mar. 30, 1901.

At a called meeting of the Board, the Sec’y presented the resignation of G.H. Towe, as teacher of 3rd and 4th Grades, in Colored.

The resignation was accepted to take effect at once.

The Supt. reported the result of an examination he had held to fill this vacancy, and, upon motion, Cora Miller was elected to fill out the unexpired term of G.H. Towe.

[Five months later, Cora Miller married George Washington, brother of Annie Washington Vick.]

——

MINUTES OF BOARD SESSION OF 1901-1902.

[No date.]

Board met in the office of Dr. Moore, Mr. Simms absent.

The resignation of S.A. Smith as Principal of the Colored School was accepted, as he had been elected to a similar position in the Schools of Winston. To fill this vacancy the Board elected J.D. Reid, Wilson, N.C.

To fill the other vacancies in the Colored School, the Board elected Cora Miller, and Mrs. S.A. Smith, both of Wilson, N.C.

[Simeon Smith took a position at a large African-American graded school in Winston-Salem. His wife soon joined him there.]

——

  • F.O. Blount — Frank Oscar Blount.
  • Prof. Winstead/B.R. Winstead — Braswell R. Winstead.
  • Levi Peacock/L.H. Peacock — Levi H. Peacock.
  • Addie Battle
  • Lucy Thompson — Lucy A. Thompson died 24 July 1946 at her home at 310 Singletary Street. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ennis Thompson of Greene County and Hellen A. Ruffin of Louisburg, N.C.; was single; and was a teacher. Virginia D. Humphrey was informant. Thompson was buried in Rountree cemetery.
  • Ida Thompson
  • Annie Washington/Annie Washington Vick/Mrs. S.H. Vick — Annie Washington Vick.
  • Annie Blake — Annie Blake Rodgers.
  • Sudie Harris
  • S.A. Smith — Simeon A. Smith.
  • Mrs. S.A. Smith — Minnie Joyner Smith.
  • G.H. Towe — Granville H. Towe.
  • Ida Rountree — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Henry Rountree, 52; wife Emma, 55; and children Charley, 34, drayman, and Ida, 27, schoolteacher.
  • Mrs. R.C. Melton — Rebecca Canty Melton.
  • Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt — Annie V. Collins Hunt.
  • Clarrissy Williams — Clarissa Williams.
  • J.D. Reid — Judge James D. Reid.

The 101st anniversary of the school boycott.

Today marks the 101st anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2016/01/07/we-tender-our-resignation-and-east-wilson-followed/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2018/03/30/the-heroic-teachers-of-principal-reids-school/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2016/12/10/a-continuation-of-the-bad-feelings/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2017/04/02/what-happened-when-white-perverts-threatened-to-slap-colored-school-teachers/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2018/02/11/604-606-east-vance-street/

Colored graded school honor roll.

WCGS students

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

  • Blount, Hellen — Born about 1915 to Mark and Mary Alice Black, Blount. Helen died 15 April 1932 of pulmonary tuberculosis. She lived at 113 South East Street.
  • Williams, Edmund — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 Vance Street, A.C.L. station laborer Allen Williams; wife Fennie, 39, laundress; and children Guss, 23, barber; Osca, 20, barber; Rosca, 20, A.C.L. station laborer; Lenard, 16; Edmond, 12, Albert, 10; Lizzie, 11; and Frederick, 3.
  • Boykin, Lila Ruth — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Viola Street, valued at $4000, Christian church clergyman James Boykin, 44; wife Nancy S., 59; daughter Lila R., 19; and roomers Ines Williams, 23, widow, and Minnie Nelson, 20, who both worked as servants.
  • Haskins, Estelle — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Robert Haskins, 37, bottling company laborer; wife Gertrude, 28; and children Mandy, 14, Elizabeth, 12, Estelle, 10, Robert, 7, Lossie, 5, Lawrence, 4, and Thomas, 1. Estelle H. Goodman died 6 January 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 February 1911 in Wilson to Robert Haskins Sr. and Gertrude Farmer; was married to Arthur Goodman; and resided at 1224 Queen Street.
  • Cooke, Clementine — Perhaps, Cook Clementine (c) cook Cherry Hotel h 605 Nash.
  • Freeman, Naomi — Naomi Olivia Freeman. In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Oliver N. Freeman, 38; wife Willie May, 31; and children Naomi, 8, Oliver N. Jr., 7, Mary F., 5, and Connie, 4.
  • Wilson, Irene — Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, Mollie Wilson, 46; son Lennie, 25, house carpenter; daughter-in-law Georgia, 23; grandson Lennie Jr., 2; and children John A., 22, house carpenter; Annie D., 19, Sarah, 17, Bunyon, 16, Hirmon, 14, William H., 12, James J., 10, and Ire, 7.
  • Gilliam, Matthew — In 1940, Matthew Stanley Gilliam registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 19 August 1913 in Wilson; his contact was mother Annie Lee Gilliam; and he was employed by State Department (K.R. Curtis), Court House, Wilson. [His father was physician Matthew S. Gilliam.]
  • Bynum, Lizzie Mae — Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 Narroway, widow Annie Bynum, 47, and children Ruth, 23, Joseph, 17, Curley C., 16, Feedy, 14, Lucy, 15, and Lizzie M., 7. Lizzie Bynum died 16 April 1932 of pulmonary tuberculosis. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1909 to Cooper and Emma Woodard Bynum, both born in Edgecombe County; was a student; and the family resided at 208 North East Street. Curley Bynum was informant. [Three blocks from Hellen Blount, above, who died the day before Lizzie.]
  • Brooks, William
  • Cox, Ebenezer — in the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Eddie Cox, 27, wife Mattie, 27, and son Ebernezer Cox, 11. In the 1925 Wilson city directory, Ebenezer is listed as a resident at 111 Carroll Street, the address at which his father operated Cox’s Pressing Club.
  • Williams, Martha — Perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laundress Minnie Williams, 27, and children Martha, 11, and Lawrence, 9, on Bynum Street.
  • Speight, Inez L.
  • Barnes, Frank Washington — Frank W. Barnes (25 March 1911-21 March 1982) was the son of Jesse Reese Barnes and Sarah Eliza Barnes. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jesse Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 47; and children Ned, 23, farm laborer; Nancy, 22, college student; Lemon, 20, pressing club laborer; Jessie Belle, 18, high school student; Maggie, 15; Ardenia, 13; Frank, 11; James, 6; and Mildred, 3.
  • Brown, James
  • Purdie, Esther — in the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Street P. Purdie, 49; wife Lenora, 28; and children Ethel, 20, Jane, 19, Raleigh, 20, Needie, 18, Mittie, 16, Esther, 14, Niney, 7, Paul, 6, Samuel, 5, and Erand, 3.
  • Williams, John
  • Blount, Florence — Florence Blount Hollingsworth English (26 March 1912-26 February 1988) was the sister of Hellen Blount, above. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cafe cook Mark Blount, 67; wife Alice, 31; children Florence, 10, and Helen, 7; son-in-law Boston Griffin, 39, furniture company delivery man; and roomer David Carrol, 40, tobacco factory worker.
  • Griffith, Mildred
  • Bullock, Viola — perhaps Viola Bullock Sams, who died 14 May 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 March 1909 in South Carolina to Sam Bullock and Martell Coper; was widowed; resided at 415 South Pender Street. Fred Woodard was informant.
  • Battle, Daisy — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Spring Street, Mary Battle, 41, tobacco factory worker, and children Flonnie, 12, Daisy, 12, David, 22, railroad crossing flagman, Jimmie, 7, and John, 5.
  • Farmer, Alice Gray — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 Hines Street, tobacco factory worker Jeff Farmer, 57; wife Blanche, 47, laundress; and children Charlie, 24, a tobacco factory worker, Jeff Jr., 18, a grocery company truck driver, Henry, 14, Alice, 12, Sam, 8, and Blanche, 5.
  • Jones, Gertrude — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Nash, Butler Jones, 39, painter; wife Myrtle, 36; and children Gertrude, 12, Louise, 6, Joseph, 5, Ruth M., 3, and Willard, 3 months.
  • Parker, Lucile — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon factory laborer Allison Parker, 46; wife Mary, 40, a tobacco factory worker; and children Marie, 14, Martha, 11, and Lucille, 8, at 901 Nash Street.
  • Taylor, Ossie Mae — Ossie Taylor Barnes died 12 February 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was born 4 July 1908 in Wilson to Joseph and Martha Taylor and resided at 202 North East Street. Informant was Ida Edmundson, 711 Suggs Street.
  • Wilkerson, Maggie Belle
  • Barnes, Frank
  • Bowens, Nathan — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 South Lodge Street, rented for $10/month, North Carolina native Flora Royal, 42, tobacco factory worker, and her Florida-born son Nathan Bowens, 22, tobacco factory laborer.
  • Ellis, Robert — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 640 Nash Street, sawmill laborer Robert Ellis, 30; wife Ella, 28; and children Robert, 9, John H., 7, James H., 6, and Ella P., 4; plus sister-in-law Hermenetta, 25.
  • Gardner, Levi — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, tobacco factory worker Will Gardner, 44; wife Mary, 40; and son Levi, 9.
  • Perry, Samuel — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, wagon factory laborer Sam Perry, 39; wife Sis, 36, tobacco factory worker; and children David, 11, Samuel, 9, and Nettie, 7.
  • Perry, David — see above.
  • Townsend, Haywood — Haywood Townsend’s delayed birth certificate indicates that he was born in Wilson in 1909 to Andrew Townsend and Lula McCoy. In the 1928 Wilson city directory, Townsend Haywood (c) student h 506 Banks.
  • Battle, Clara — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 East South Street, rented for $24/month, Joseph Battle, 50, janitor at colored high school; wife Gertrude, 42; and daughter Clara, 22; and roomers Earnest Heath, 24, cook, barber James Pettiford, 32, Robert McNeal, 23, servant, Essie M. Anderson, 18, servant, and Viola McLean, 24, “sick.”
  • Tarboro, Emma Lou — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, ice plant laborer Issac Tarboro, 39; wife Emma, 38; and children Thomas, 14, Emma Lou, 12, Issac Jr., 8, John, 5, Virginia, 3, and Richard, 8 months.
  • Weaver, Lewis — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 620 Stantonsburg Street, oil mill laborer Nathan Weaver, 47; wife Pattie, 45; and sons Lewis, 12, and Perry, 6.
  • Spells, E____
  • Williams, Marie — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1004 Nash Street, Edd Williams, 39; wife Minnie, 37; and children Marie, 14, Reges, 12, Gency, 10, and Jessie, 5 months.
  • Best, Herman — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1107 Nash Street, William Best, 37; wife Ada, 39; children Dorthy L., 6, Andrew(?), 12, Herman, 11, and Elizabeth, 8; plus brothers-in-law James Sims, 48, and Willie Sims, 38.
  • Woo[dard?], George A.
  • Ruffin, ____
  • DuBerry, Sherman — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 Stantonsburg Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory worker Linda Deberry, 70, widow, and sons Sherman, 19, tobacco factory worker, and Herman, 10.
  • Venters, ____
  • Shade, Sarah — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 535 Nash Street, Turner Stokes, 50, carpenter; wife Morah, 39; mother-in-law Martha Pitt, 83; and boarders Isac Shade, 44, drugstore manager; wife Estella, 38; and children Kenneth, 13, and Sarah, 9.
  • Shade, Kenneth — see above.
  • Huzzy, [Eliza]beth
  • Baker, Irene
  • Peacock, Susan — Susan Peacock Prince.

 

 

Mary Euell and Dr. Du Bois.

To my astonished delight, historian David Cecelski cited to my recent post on Mary C. Euell and the school boycott — and shouted out Black Wide-Awake — today.  In a piece dedicated to Glenda Gilmore on the occasion of her retirement, Cecelski describes a letter from Euell to W.E.B. Du Bois he found among Du Bois’ papers, collected at and digitized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Researching the letter’s context led him to Black Wide-Awake,  and he penned a warm and gracious thanks for my research.

Euell wrote the letter from her home at 135 Pender Street on 22 April 1918, not two weeks after leading  her colleagues in a walkout. She made reference to Du Bois’ letter of the 18th and promised to send “full details of [her] trouble here in Wilson,” including newspaper clippings and photographs. Though no follow-up correspondence from Euell is found in the collection, there is a newspaper clipping sent April 12 by Dr. A.M. Rivera, a dentist and N.A.A.C.P. leader from Greensboro, North Carolina. (Coincidentally, Dr. Rivera’s office was in the Suggs Building.)

Greensboro Daily News, 12 April 1918.

(The collection also contains a brief letter from Mrs. O.N. Freeman [Willie Hendley Freeman] referring to an enclosed a 7 August 1920 Wilson Daily Times article and noting “this might interest you or be of some value to some one as I know your sentiments by reading the Crisis.” I have not been able to locate the article in online databases and do not know whether it related to the on-going boycott.)

“The colored people say they will not stand for it”: the 100th anniversary of the Wilson school boycott.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9 henceforth, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2016/01/07/we-tender-our-resignation-and-east-wilson-followed/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2018/03/30/the-heroic-teachers-of-principal-reids-school/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2016/12/10/a-continuation-of-the-bad-feelings/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2017/04/02/what-happened-when-white-perverts-threatened-to-slap-colored-school-teachers/

https://afamwilsonnc.com/2018/02/11/604-606-east-vance-street/

The (heroic) teachers of Principal Reid’s school.

This astounding photograph depicts the teachers on staff at the Colored Graded School around 1918, when school superintendent Charles L. Coon slapped Mary C. Euell after principal J.D. Reid complained that she was insubordinate. Euell, who pressed charges against Coon and led a boycott of the public school, is seated second from left.

Information about the teachers is elusive. Only one, S. Roberta Battle, was a native of Wilson. Georgia native Georgia Burke spent about a decade in Wilson, and Virginia native Mary Jennings at least four years. The remaining women are not found in local census records or directories.

  • G.M. Burks — Georgia Mae Burke. Georgia Burke boarded with Roberta Battle’s family during her time in Wilson. In 1921, she and Mary Euell were nearly involved in a second slapping incident in Wilson. In 1928, she moved to New York City to commence an acting career.
  • L.B. Wayland
  • M.L. Garrett
  • S.R. Battle — Sallie Roberta Battle Johnson.
  • S.D. Wiseman
  • M.A. Davis
  • M.C. Euell
  • M.M. Jennings — Mary M. Jennings. Virginia-born Mary Jennings, 28, private school teacher boarded with the family of Hardy Tate at 208 Pender at the time of the 1920 census. In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C. city directory, she was described as the principal of Wilson Normal School, which was probably the independent school founded by black parents and businessmen in the wake of the boycott. In the 1922 city directory, she is listed as a teacher at the Wilson Normal School and resided at 307 [formerly 208] Pender.
  • J.B. Pride

Photograph courtesy of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr., D-NC, a Wilson native. Thank you!

Commencement.

commencement

2

In 1921, Wilson Colored Graded School educated students through the eighth grade. The wide range of students’ ages reflects the difficulty of regular school attendance, in an era of untreatable childhood illness and other family challenges.

  • Dr. F.S. Hargrave Frank S. Hargrave.
  • Artelia Barnes Leo Artelia Barnes (1906-1962) was a daughter of John M. and Annie Darden Barnes. She married Emanuel D. Jones in 1929 and later a Davis. A retired music teacher, she died in Houston, Texas, in 1982.
  • Thelma Barnes — Thelma Barnes (1907-2005) was Artelia Barnes’ sister. She married Walter G. Byers and worked as a music teacher.
  • Bessie Speight — Bessie Speight was the daughter of Jake and Rebecca Speight.
  • Marie Thomas — Marie Thomas (1905-??) was the daughter of Charles and Sarah Best Thomas.
  • Thelma Reid — Thelma R. Reid (1908-1999) was the daughter of Judge D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid. A Shaw University graduate, she married Matthew J. Whitehead, Johnson C. Smith ’30, on 21 April 1935, and the family eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where she taught and her husband served as a college administrator.
  • Mattie Baker — Mattie F. Baker (1905-??) was the daughter of William and Lula Baker.
  • Susan Peacock — Susan M. Peacock (1904-1992) was the daughter of Levi H. and Hannah Lee Pike Peacock. She married Abraham H. Prince of Charlotte in Wilson on 4 October 1930. Per her obituary, the Shaw University graduate and retired teacher  died in Burlington, North Carolina.
  • John Spell — John Stephen Spell Jr. (1904-??) was the son of John S. and Mattie Spell.
  • Nancy Dupree — Nancy Dupree (1904-1969) was the daughter of Wiley and Victoria Woodard Dupree. She married Ed Nicholson in 1926 and worked as a teacher.
  • Louise Cherry — South Carolina-born Louise D. Cherry (1906-1993) was the daughter of Ervin Cherry and Clara Cherry Thomas. She married Benjamin Sherrod, a Wilson native, in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1941. Cherry, like several of her classmates became a teacher.
  • Irene Washington — Irene Washington (1903-??) was the daughter of George W. and Cora Miller Washington. She married Macon Lucas in Wilson in 1926.
  • Cora Bryant
  • Alice Jones — Alice Pearl Jones (1905-1942) was the daughter of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones. She married Calvin Swinson in Wilson in 1923.
  • William Morgan
  • Ruby Peacock — Ruby Peacock (1906-1975) was also a daughter of Levi and Hannah Peacock. She married Clarence Sherrod. The retired teacher died in Wilson in 1975.
  • Della Mae Whitehead — Della Mae Whitehead (1908-1997) was the daughter of John Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead.
  • Irene Baker
  • George Harris
  • Vernon Harris
  • Rebecca Kittrell — Rebecca Kittrell (1904-??) was the daughter of Solomon and Lettie Roberts Kittrell. She first married a Williams, then married Elton Thomas, son of Charlie and Sarah Best Thomas, in 1947 in Wilson.

Digitized at www.digitalnc.org.