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

African American Schools in Breathitt County, KY

In 1886, there were two colored schools in Breathitt County, KY, according to the Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In 1907, there was one colored school with 100 children, the school was located in Jackson [source: Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction]. According to McClure's Magazine, October 1922, v.54, no.8, p.17, the Breathitt County inter-racial committee secured three acres of land and built a school for the Negroes of Jackson. During the 1930-31 school term, the colored school had an enrollment of 27 students who were taught by one teacher [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1930-1931, p.51].

There is also mention of the colored school in Jackson on pp.6-7 in the report titled "Education - Jackson City Schools," a WPA document written sometime around the 1938-39 school term [source: Kentucky Education Collection, Series 1, Box 4, File: Breathitt County Education]. The school was a two classroom room frame building that was in bad condition, the school building was old, it was located on the west slope side of Yo Hill. 
One room was sometimes used as a gymnasium and was fitted for basketball. There were also two small dressing rooms and a small room that had been used as a kitchen, workshop, library and store room. The school had grades 1-8 taught by Mrs. Katheryn Gatewood. Outside the school was a playground of hard packed red clay about 50 x 50 feet. There were also two outside toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls. In a 1940 letter from the Breathitt County Board of Education, written to the Kentucky Writer's Project, it was reported that that there were 49 Negro children in the city and 7 in the county [source: Kentucky Education Collection, Series 1, Box 4, File: Breathitt County Education, Letter from Marie R. Turner, County Superintendent, Breathitt County Board of Education, pp.1-2].

The county school system did not have a colored school, but rather paid tuition to the city school board for the county students who attended the Jackson colored school. According to the title Breathitt County by S. D. Bowling, p.54, the elementary Rosenwald School in Jackson was located on Hurst Lane. The Rosenwald School probably replaced the former school because there continued to be only one colored school in Jackson. In 1940, the Negro teacher in Breathitt County was Katheryn Gatewood [source: U.S. Federal Census]. There was not a high school for Negro children in Breathitt County. The Breathitt County Schools are noted as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.402.

  • Colored School
  • Jackson School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Breathitt County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Jackson, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Breathitt County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 22, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-10-11 02:55:26