If you are black and graduated from a high school in the southern US prior to 1970, you graduated from a historically black high school. I graduated from the historically black Eva H Harris High School in Brookhaven, MS in 1964. In 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of the United States Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision set forth a sudden futile effort by whites to keep segregated schools under the separate but equal legal doctrine by building new schools for blacks. I believe that Eva H Harris was built-in 1958, as were many other historically black southern schools, in a scheme to influence black leaders to stay segregated. The scheme was to build new upgraded schools for blacks, we will be overjoyed, and we will not want to go to school with white folks. Our goal was not to just go to school with white folks; we wanted an equal opportunity to live without fear of injury or death.
I will admit that the new schools that were built were better than the old schools. The curriculum was better than at the old one or two classroom schools that my older siblings graduated. My older siblings went to a one-room school that sat behind one of the churches in our community. The school went only to the eighth grade. If you wanted to continue your education past the eighth grade, you had to find a school outside of the community.
The new schools were beautiful brick buildings with a gymnasium that had a varnished hardwood floor, attached cafeteria, a biology lab and a modern high school shop with a few power tools. However, the new schools still did not equal white schools. We sometimes got used classroom desks, chairs and textbooks. Our Biology lab had a few test tubes and Bunsen burners that we shared but that did not compare to what the white kids had.
Most historically black high schools in the south are gone. They have either been torn down or converted to elementary or middle schools. In some cases, I can find no evidence that some of the schools ever existed.
Give a shout-out in the comments to your old historically black high school.
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