Darden

Another Darden High School.

Wilson’s African-American high school was renamed for Charles H. Darden in 1938. Thirteen years later, Opelika, Alabama’s new high school for Black students was named for Darden’s first-born son, Dr. John W. Darden.

Both Darden High Schools graduated their last classes in 1970. Their buildings, however, remain in use. The newer section of Wilson’s Darden houses part of Samuel H. Vick Elementary. Opelika’s Darden is now home to Lee County Head Start Darden Center.

Architectural drawing posted at “First Black Doctor in Opelika, AL,” Valle Vision News blog, 22 February 2018.

Dr. Darden makes good.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 September 1936.

“Darden and Family at Pharmacy.” This unattributed photo is posted at “First Black Doctor in Opelika, AL,” Valle Vision News blog, 22 February 2018. Dr. Darden is at center, with his wife Maude Jean Logan Darden to the left, standing in front of his Opelika pharmacy. The man at far right may be J.B. Darden, a pharmacist who worked in his brother’s shop before settling in Virginia.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Filling in the gaps.

Last week in Wilson.

My thanks to Wilson County Historical Association, Wilson County Tourism Development Authority, Drew C. Wilson of Wilson Times (where you can read the accompanying article), Reginald Speight of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr.‘s office, and local elected officials and members of the public who took time to show interest and support.

Governor’s Day attendees.

Baltimore Afro-American, 11 June 1938.

William and Ethel Cornwell Hines, “Mrs. M. Darden” (probably Naomi Duncan Darden), and Flossie Howard Barnes traveled to Richmond, Virginia, in 1938 to attend a Governor’s Day program. (I have no information on either the purpose of the program or why North Carolinians would have been interested.)

Dedication of historical markers.

At last, the official dedications of four historical markers installed in Wilson in 2020-21.

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“Colored Citizens” published a note to mark the end of the second year of the Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute. Wilson Daily Times, 1 June 1920.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Charles S. Darden’s groundbreaking legal work against segregation.

In 2018, the City of Los Angeles nominated the Cordary Family Residence and Pacific Ready-Cut Cottage at 1828 South Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, California, for historic-cultural monument designation. 

Page 13 of the nomination form contains this arresting statement: “Until recently the case of Benjamin Jones and Fanny Guatier, Plaintiffs v. Berlin Realty Company, a corporation, Defendant, has been an obscure footnote to history. But observers are now not just rediscovering the case itself, but also reminding us that the legal arguments against racial covenants used by Plaintiffs’ attorney Charles S. Darden in this case — and adopted by the Los Angeles Superior Court judge in ruling favorably for the Plaintiffs — preceded and foresaw what became the notable winning argument of later precedent-setting “Sugar Hill” case that took place in Los Angeles in 1945.” That case, involving actors Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers‘ fight against racially restrictive covenants, is credited with being the first to cite the 14th Amendment as justification for overturning such covenants. That recognition, however, more properly belongs to Jones and Gautier — and the arguing attorney, Wilson’s own Charles S. Darden — which has been overlooked because it did not rise to California’s Court of Appeals. Read more about Darden’s innovative arguments below.