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Monday, January 31, 2011

SCHOOL SEGREGATION: THERE WAS A TIME -- NO LONGER

Middletown School -- Class of 1922
Courtesy of Jesse Ward, Madison County School District
Middletown School was one of many that were segregated in Kentucky until President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which disallowed segregation in schools along with giving rights of equality. 


February is Black History month. Segregation was a part of the history of Madison County, Kentucky where this photo was taken in 1922. Not only was segregation prevavlent in Kentucky it was widespread across the nation. It was a time of complexities that left an indelible mark on our nation. 


This photo was taken when Middletown School was a wooden building. It would later be rebuilt as a brick school as seen in the following photos. 

Middletown School -- Class of 1934-35
Courtesy of Jesse Ward, Madison County School District
Jesse Ward, Madison County School District Historian has compiled old school histories of Madison County for some time now -- they include one room school- houses as well as former segregated schools.I sat down with him to view some of his photos and talk about his findings.

The class members above came with a student teacher list.  Jesse had it copied and placed on a CD with some other great photos for me to keep with some of my research on Madison County. What a great guy.
Class of 1934-35 -- Student Teacher List
Courtesy of Jesse Ward, Madison County School District


The last graduation class of Middleton School.
Courtesy of Jesse Ward, Madison County School District
The 1964 year meant the above students would be phased into the public schools. It took a long time to end this separate but equal charade.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for this great post Barbara, there's so much wonderful history out there. Glad you shared it with us.

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  2. Mama Bug -- Oh so you stay up as late as I. Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment at this late hour. -- barbara

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  3. We're still coming to grips with our Indigenous History here in Oz, Barbara but I hope to live long enough to see both an Aboriginal History month here as well as full acceptance of verbal, unwritten history.

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  4. The unfortunate part, Barbara, is that it "ain't over yet." We still have a long, long way to go....

    Thanks for this remembrance.

    Elora

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  5. Very cool photos. Thanks for posting them. Just incredible that segregation continued for so many years, but we can hardly brag. There are so many injustices in today's world.

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  6. We've come a long way...and we're about halfway there. Great pictures!

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  7. Vicki -- I agree wholeheartly with you -- barbara

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  8. Sheri -- Yes, I agree about the many injustices that we have in the world today. I always wonder if they will ever stop? --- barbara

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  9. Elora -- I guess there is a general consensus among us that we have a long way to go -- barbara

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  10. Jayne -- In the U.S. verbal histories are referred to as oral histories and is an accepted documentation of cultural history. Black history month has experienced tenuous popularity with lawmakers but I think it has such a foothold that it won't be turned over. --- barbara

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  11. Such an important piece of history and Elora is right, I think. We still have such a long way to go.

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  12. Farmchick -- Some paths are difficult for reasons not so clear. -- barbara

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  13. Excellent post. (I adore old school class photos. These are wonderful)

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  14. Tess -- I too like school photos -- the sweet innocent faces always make me smile -- barbara

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  15. Thanks for the pictures, Barbara. I remember segregation in Morehead, KY, when our only 2 black kids had to travel to Winchester (I believe) to attend school. Yet, they were members of our church; one in my Sunday school class, the other in my Boy Scout troop. At least the church got it right.

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  16. Jim -- I very much appreciated that you gave comment to this post. As a native Kentuckian that lived through this era of segregation you speak with first-hand experience. Your story of the two young boys having to travel such a distance to attend school is tough to wrap my thoughts around. And yes, thankfully your church and boy scout troop got it right -- Thanks barbara

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  17. I've visited this post several times and shared it with BW, too, but was too captivated by these photos to find the words to craft a comment. I spent a lot of time studying the large versions of the pictures - the expressions on those faces, the clothing, the buildings, and the contrast between the different photos - and trying to imagine what life must have been like for these kids as they grew up in those different eras.

    I was especially struck by the photo from 1922. Thinking about how it was the beginning of The Roaring 20's for some of society, but it might as well have been happening in a different solar system for the people who posed for this photograph. The small tot in the front row really fascinated me - such an adult gesture with his hand to the base of his throat! He looks so wee, I wonder if he was enrolled in the school or had tagged along with someone else that day?

    Then there's the photo taken during the Great Depression. I can't imagine how desperate those times must have been, how bleak the outlook and few the opportunities for the older ones who would be graduating. Unlike the other two pictures, there's not a single smile on any of the faces in this one, and the girl standing second from the right in the middle row is wearing an expression that probably conveys it best. (I also kept comparing the first two photos to see if I could recognize any of the youngest kids in the first photo all grown up in the second one!)

    The last photo has a lot more smiles, and though the road ahead was still going to be difficult, sometimes tragic and often violent, it's nice to know that these kids got to see (and probably participate in) the making of long overdue social changes and great progress. I agree with everyone who says we still have far to go to see to it that love, compassion and empathy overcome racism and all the other "isms" in our world that create the illusion that all living beings are separate, and that many are "lesser" rather than "fellow." But hope abides!

    Thanks for sharing these photos and this post, Barbara! It's evocative on so many levels.

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  18. Laloofah -- When I look at old vintage photos and don't know the persons I also try to figure out the who, what, and why of it.

    The 1922 image seemed to reflect a farming culture as the boys were in bib overalls.

    The 30s photo seemed to have jumped away from the farming dress code.

    The final 1963 photo style of dress seemed to fit with a better economic time.

    Of course these are all assumptions on my part.

    Your comments were thoughtful and interesting.

    Thanks -- barbara

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