From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Schools in Bell County, KY

According to journalist C. J. Harte, the first colored school in Middlesboro, KY, was established in 1892 and continued until 1907 [source: Harte, C. J., "Coming home, Lincoln School 100th Anniversary," The Middlesboro Daily News, 2008, front page]. Early on, the school was known as Middlesboro Colored School, and it is mentioned in the 1901 superintendent's report [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, July 1899-June 1901]. This Colored School was replaced by the newly erected Lincoln School in 1907. The Lincoln school continued until 1964 when the Middlesboro school systems were integrated. But long before integration, in 1921, the Middlesboro public schools' system expansion made provisions for a new school for the Negroes [source: History of Bell County Kentucky by H. H. Fuson].

In other parts of the county, in Pineville, John Moore led in the lawsuit against the city, demanding that Pineville provide for the education of all colored children. The case of the City of Pineville et. al. v. John Moore et. al. was decided in the Court of Appeals of Kentucky in February of 1921. In 1925, there were 7 colored schools in Bell County; 4 teachers in the Middlesboro colored elementary school and 2 in the high school; and 2 teachers in the Pineville colored elementary school and 1 in the high school [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p.67-69].

Almost 15 years later, according to author H. H. Fuson, during the 1939-40 school term, there were three colored schools in Bell County, KY. One of the schools was Straight Creek Colored School and the school building was still standing in 1985 [source: "Classifieds Work, Tract No.II," The Daily News, 07/04/1985, p.4]. Straight Creek and the Pineville Independent Schools were the first schools in Bell County to be listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.420]. In 1939, the Pineville Colored School had grades 1-12 with four teachers, 110 students, and Alvantus Gibson was principal.

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Bell County were Thelma Baughan, Earl Baughan, Maxine Baughan, Odessa Baughan, Mattie Belle Bryant, Oneil Bernas, John M. Burnside, Maud Colman, Alvantus Gibson, Hattie Hazely, M. C. McKenney, Evelyn Miller, Kayla Miller, Helen Michael, Frank Smith, Leddis Smith, and Nina Thompson [source: U.S. Federal Census].

In 1948, there were six high school students in the Roland-Hayes School in Pineville [source: William T. Gilbert's thesis titled The Administration and Organization of Secondary Schools for Negro Pupils in Eastern Kentucky]. According to Gilbert, the school for high school students in Middlesboro was named Lincoln [misnamed as Liberty in source], and the school in Pineville was named Roland-Hayes. The teachers at the Pineville school and the Middlesboro school are mentioned in the Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal.

  • Colored Schools (9)
  • Lincoln School (Middlesboro, 1907-1964)
  • Middlesboro School (1892-1907)
  • Pineville School
  • Roland-Hayes School (Pineville)
  • Straight Creek School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Middlesboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Pineville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Straight Creek, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Bell County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-11-21 22:21:56