segregation

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 5.

Margaret Colvert Allen, seated far right, third row, circa 1915.

Greensboro Daily News, 10 March 1916.

Margaret C. Allen, second from right, second row from top. Her sister Launie Mae Colvert Jones, at left, first row of middle section, circa 1916. Both photos, I believe depict students of Statesville’s Colored Free School. The second photo may show the school itself shortly before it burned or may depict one of the other buildings in which the school met before a replacement was built in 1921.

Photos in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Barton College’s oral history project.

The introduction to Barton College’s Crossing the Tracks: An Oral History of East and West Wilson:

“Starting in the spring of 2013 and concluding in the fall of 2014, Barton College students began interviewing Wilson residents about social, cultural, political, and economic relations between residents of East and West Wilson, and how these relations have changed over the past sixty to seventy years. 

“In spite of the many significant achievements of the modern Civil Rights Movement, our nation, state, and community bear the scars and legacies of a deeply troubled racial history that continues to impact our relationships. While we might like to forget or gloss over the painful part of that history, its effect lingers, and denying it will not make it go away.  As the writer James Baldwin once said, ‘The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.’  One of the goals of Crossing the Tracks, then, is to bring these unconscious forces of history into our consciousness, so that we might begin to confront the historical effects of white supremacy and begin the process of healing.

“A history of segregation, built on a foundation of white supremacy, created a separate but unequal society.  And the traditional historical narrative is at best an incomplete history, written and preserved by those who hold political, social, and economic power.  It too often omits the strong voices and tremendous contributions of those on the margins of power.  Part of the mission of the Freeman Round House Museum is to fill this gap in the historical record by preserving and publicizing the contributions of African American Wilsonians to education, medicine, the arts, criminal justice, and entertainment.  Crossing the Tracks supports this mission.  It is an accessible collection of first-person accounts of life in Wilson that students, scholars, and the general public can use to study and write about this remarkable, underrepresented history.  In many ways, it builds on the work of Dr. Charles W. McKinney, Jr., whose book, Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina, documents decades of committed struggle by East Wilson residents to lay the groundwork for the modern Civil Rights Movement.”

The project includes videotaped interviews with 22 residents of East Wilson. The recollections of many, including Samuel Lathan, Roderick Taylor Jr., and Mattie Bynum Jones, date to the 1930s and ’40s, the latter decades covered by the blog. Barton College partnered with the Freeman Roundhouse and Museum to obtain these invaluable stories and all are available online.

Boxcar.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 8 June 1913.

Joe Saunders was arrested for shooting Charles Coley at a house at 114 Wiggins Street. Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy) did not open until 1914. Other hospitals in town would not admit African-Americans, so Coley was carried to a boxcar to die or recuperate.

 

County schools, no. 10: Lofton School.

The tenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Lofton School

Lofton School does not appear to have been a Rosenwald school.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows “Lofton” school on present-day Downing Road, just below Contentnea Creek.

Per sale advertised in the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks in the fall of 1951: “LOFTON COLORED SCHOOL in Black Creek Township, containing 1 3/4 acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEING on the Southerly side of the Aycock Road and the Westerly side of Contentnea Creek, just below the bridge; BEGINNING in the center of the road at the bridge, runs thence with and along the road South 73 degrees 45′ West 175.13 feet to an iron pin, a bend in the road, thence South 44 degrees 10′ West 317.58 to an iron pin, leaves the road and runs thence South 81 degrees 19′ East about 619 feet to the center of Contentnea Creek, thence with and along and up the line of said Creek to the point of beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 108, at page 109, Wilson County Registry.”

Description: This school is not listed in The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, unless it is “Lovers” School, described as having “no house.” In such case, the school would have met in another building, such as a church. Clearly, however, there was a Lofton school building.

Known faculty: Annie Cooke Farmer Battle Dickens, Eloise Reavis Peacock.

Aerial view courtesy of Bing.com.

County schools, no. 9: Page School.

The ninth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Page School

Page School was not a Rosenwald school; it was originally a school for white students. When small white schools consolidated circa 1920, the school building was turned over to educate black children.

Location: A 12 August 1910 Wilson Times article refers to “Page’s school house, near Town Creek.”  A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows “Pages” school located on present-day East Langley Road, just west of the Edgecombe County line. [However, per a 23 May 2000 Wilson Daily Times article, Page’s School was located at Dunn’s (then Page’s Crossroads) and was converted into a store when it closed after consolidation in the early 1920s.]

Description: The photo below may depict the Page School near Dunn’s Crossroads, not the one on East Langley.

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Known faculty: none.

County schools, no. 8: Calvin Level School.

The eighth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Calvin Level School

Calvin Level School was not a Rosenwald school; it was originally a school for white students called Cabin Level. When small white schools consolidated after the construction of Black Creek School, the school building was turned over to educate black children. In 1951, students in Calvin Level’s district began attending the newly built Springfield School.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows a school (labeled “Scotts”) located on present-day Scott Church Road, south of Wiggins Mill Road, the approximate location of Calvin Level School as described by former student Thelma Braswell Forbes.

However, per sale advertised in the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks in the fall of 1951: “CALVIN LEVEL COLORED SCHOOL, in Cross Roads Township, containing one acre more or less, and more particularly described follows: BEGINNING at a lightwood stake in the edge of the Quaker Road, running with said road 70 yards to a pine stump, corner of Jessie Aycock’s land, thence in an Easterly direction with said Aycock line to a lightwood stake in Thomas Woodard’s line, thence with said Woodard’s line 70 yards to a church lot called Cabbin Level, thence nearly West with said church lot to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 17, at page 519, Wilson County Registry.”

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, “Calvins” School was a one-room school seated on one acre.

Known faculty: Teachers Anna D. Reid Hall, Lula E. BarfieldMazie Wells, Mamie B. Ford, Dorothy Grissom Parker, Josephine Edwards.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 November 1946.

County schools, no. 7: Brooks School.

The seventh in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Brooks School

Brooks School dates prior to 1881, making it the earliest documented rural African-American school in Wilson County. Brooks was not a Rosenwald school. It was consolidated with other small schools in 1951, and its students then attended Speight High School.

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Wilson Advance, 11 February 1881.

Dr. Alexander G. Brooks had been a wealthy slaveowner and may have donated the land upon which the school was built.

Location: Per a 1936 state road map of Wilson County, the approximate location was just east of Black Creek on present-day Woodbridge Road, in the vicinity of Bunches Church.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Brooks School was a one-room school seated on one acre.

A February 1951 report on Wilson County schools found: “The Brooks Colored … building is in ‘fair condition’ and has only two teachers for seven grades ….” Wilson Daily Times, 16 February 1951.

Known faculty: Principal Alice B. Mitchell; teacher Nora Allen Mitchell Jones.

County schools, no. 6: Pender School.

The sixth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Pender School

Pender School was originally built to educate white children. After school consolidation 1917-1924, the building was turned over for use by black children. Pender was not a Rosenwald school. After 1939, students in Pender district attended Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City.

Location: Per Deed Book 443, page 237, on 17 October 1951, the Board of Education of Wilson County sold the Board of Trustees of the Elm City Graded Schools several parcels: “Lot No. 3: BEGINS at a lightwood stake, in the Bain Edwards line near a small Branch; thence South with said line to a stake 70 yards, cornering; thence East 35 yards to a stake, cornering; thence North 70 yards to a stake, cornering; thence West 35 yards to the beginning, containing 1/2 acre; and being the identical property conveyed to the School Committee of Gardners Township and their successors in office by deed from Edwin Pender, et al., dated April 2, 1877 and duly recorded in Book 19, at page 496 Wilson County Registry; and being known as Pender’s Colored School lot.”

Per a 1936 state road map of Wilson County, the approximate location was on what is now Rosebud Church Road opposite its intersection with Redmon Road. An 8 September 2001 Daily Times article about Rosenwald schools quotes a former student as saying the Pender school building was still standing, but it has since been demolished.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Pender School was a one-room school seated on one acre.

Known faculty: none.

County schools, no. 5: Turner School.

The fifth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Turner School

Turner School was originally built to educate white children. After school consolidation 1917-1924, the building was turned over for use by black children. In 1939, children in Turner district began attending the newly built Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City.

Location: The 29 September 1953, the Wilson Daily Times reported this land transfer: “Board of Education of Wilson County to the Board of Trustees of Elm City Graded Schools, lot beginning at I.T. Luper’s corner in the center of the Town Creek-Rocky Mount road [now Town Creek Road] known as the Turner School lot and lot beginning at the northwest corner of a church lot in the road leading from W.L. Matthews’ store to Gardners store.”

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Turner School was a one-room school seated on one acre. The report included this photo of Turner School.

Known faculty: none.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 October 1939.