In March 1941, after repeated complaints by “a delegation of negroes,” Wilson County Commissioners were forced to supply two additional school buses to alleviate severe overcrowding on the buses ferrying children to and from the county’s two Black high schools, Elm City and Williamson. A state school commission inspection disclosed that the two buses serving Elm City were carrying 280 children a day on a route that wove across the top half of the county. (Children were picked up in dangerously overcrowded shifts, which resulted in forces tardiness and absences for many.)
As identified by Oazie Mitchell and friends, seated on the front row: Isaac Renfrow, Arabella Greenfield Renfrow, Paul H. Jones, Calvin Jones (squatting), Gertrude Creech Jones, Joe Kent, Cleo Newsome, Otis Newsome, Pauline Kent, Cleveland Mitchell, Addie Lee Kent, Bud Atkinson, Ida Mae Finch, unidentified, Mattie Shelley, Leona Jones, and unidentified. Second row: Annie Mitchell, Carlester Mitchell, Addie Creech, Luther Creech, Irene Jones, Jim L. Jones, Lillie Powell, Luther Wilder, Doretha Finch, Doris Finch, Roy Shelley, Ada Carter Locus, Carl Locus, Ida Carter Brockington, and Annie Barham.
Photo shared by Tondra Talley, whose grandparents Paul and Gertrude Jones and many other relatives are depicted. Thank you!
High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Robert E. Lee filed this report for newly opened Williamson High School.
The school year was only 120 days long and ran from 21 January 1941 to 31 May 1941. (Compare Elm City Colored School, which ran from February to June. Darden, on the other hand, had a 180-day school year.) Three teachers taught at Williamson — two women and one man. Astonishingly, these three taught 114 children — 39 boys and 75 girls — in three grades. (The school had no 11th or 12th grades.) Six-room Williamson Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, principal’s office, library, or auditorium. It did have a lunchroom run by the home economics department.
The high school offered classes in English, spelling, general mathematics, citizenship, American history, world history, geography, general science, and biology.
Classes met at 9:00, 9:48, 10:45, 11:27, 1:48 and 2:38. Lunch was at noon. R.E. Lee taught science, geography and history. J.P. Brown taught English, spelling and citizenship. C.J. Nicholson taught math, English and spelling.
All the teachers were college graduates. Each was in his or her first year teaching at Williamson.
The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Oracle, and sponsored an English Club. Lee made this note: “Our Agriculture, Home Economics and guidance programs will begin in September, 1941, as steps are already being taken to put them into effect.”
High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County; North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.