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African American Schools in Paducah and McCracken County, KY
Start Year : 1866
End Year : 1956
One of the early colored schools supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, was Runkle Institute located in Paducah, KY, established between 1866 and 1870 [see NKAA entry Freemen Schools]. The act to establish public schools for African American children in McCracken County was approved by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1873. There would be an annual tax to support the schools: 20 cents on each one hundred dollars of property owned by persons of color, and a poll tax or per capital tax of $1 for each Colored male resident over the age of 18. In 1880, the colored teachers were Charles Brooks, William Clark, Matilda Fletcher, Columbus Holland, James Owens, George Owens, and Samuel Reed [source: U.S. Federal Census]. In 1893, there were 13 colored school districts with 13 school houses in McCracken County: 6 log buildings, 1 frame building, and 6 brick buildings [source: History of Education in McCracken County, Kentucky by Francis M. Irwin, pp.63-66]. There were 13 teachers, 7 males and 6 females, who taught an average of 340 students each day during the 8 month school term. In 1925, Lincoln High School in Paducah was a Class 1A school with Mrs. M. R. Phillips as principal [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p.40]. The high school had 6 teachers and an enrollment of 127 students. There were 9 elementary schools with 9 teachers in the county school system meant to serve 1,741 students; and in Paducah, there were 18 elementary teachers and 7 teachers at Lincoln High School, all meant to serve 1,166 students [pp.68-69]. Sixteen years earlier, in 1909, Dennis Anderson began building West Kentucky Industrial College, the school offered secondary education (high school) and junior college for the training of teachers. In 1928, the school had 11 faculty members and their annual salaries were as follows: D. H. Anderson, President, $3,000; H. S. Osborne, Dean, $2,000; W. W. Maddox, $1,233; Mrs. M. J. Egester, $1,080; J. A. Walker, $1,110.78; Mrs. A. H. Anderson, $1,008; Mrs. M. V. McGill, $900; R. W. Daevson, Manual Training, $1,008; Mrs. S. E. Poston, Domestic Science, $810 (second wife of Ephraim Poston); Miss M. A. Robison, Matron and Teacher, $540; Mrs. B. A. Dawson, $945 [source: History of Education in McCracken County, Kentucky by Francis M. Irwin, pp.110-112]. The school had an average attendance of 343 students, and there were extra-curricular activities such as football, tennis, croquet, basketball, and volleyball. Lincoln High School opened in 1908, and in 1926, there were four teachers, all graduates of a four year college [source: History of Education in McCracken County, Kentucky]. In 1916, Paducah Public High School (Lincoln) was listed in the Bureau of Education Bulletin on Negro Education. J. B. F. Prather was principal of the four year high school and the eight elementary grades that were also within the school. There were 39 students and four teachers. There had been a public high school for African Americans in Paducah since the 1890s. By the 1940s, the city of Paducah had seven public schools for Colored children; the schools were listed in Caron's Paducah, KY City Directory, 1941 and 1942: Dunbar School at 2510 Yeiser Street (Lexie B. Mays was the teacher); Garfield School on Harris, southeast corner of Ninth Street, (Mattye O. Strauss was the principal); Lincoln School on the west side of Eighth Street and Lincoln Jr. High and Lincoln High School, both at 1715 S. Eighth Street (E. W. Whiteside was principal of all three schools); Rowlandtown School at 1400 Thompson Avenue (Henrietta Brogwell was the teacher); and Sanders School on the east side of Levin Avenue, north of 32nd Street (Kate O. Smith was the teacher). In total, there were at least 68 Negro teachers in McCracken County in 1940 [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The West Kentucky Vocational School was the first to be listed as having both "white & colored" students [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1955-56, p.224]. The following year, the schools listed as integrated were Clark, Jefferson Jr. High, Longfellow, and Paducah Tilghman, on p.441 in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57. For more see Chapter 998, pp. 509-510, Acts Passed at the ... Session of the General Assembly for the Commonwealth, 1873 [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and Paducah Public High School on p. 280 in Negro Education, Bulletin, 1916, No. 39, vol. 2, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education. See photocopy image of Union Station School in McCracken County on p.31 at Rosenwald schools in Kentucky, 1917-1932 [.pdf].
- Runkle Institute
- Colored Schools (13)
- Dunbar School
- Garfield School
- Lincoln School
- Northside School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.879]
- Paducah Public High School (1890s)
- Rosemary School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.879]
- Rowlandtown School
- Sanders School
- Southside School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.879]
- Union Station School
- West Kentucky Industrial College
- West Paducah School
- Woodland School
See photo image of West Paducah Negro School in Kentucky Digital Library - images.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, African American Schools in Kentucky (Counties A-Z)
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky