Second Louisiana All-State High School Biographical Annual Review

HISTORY
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As the United States approached the end of World War II, there were nearly 60 African American  high schools scattered throughout the state of Louisiana. These high schools had the underpinnings of “Training School” and “Colored School” attached to their  names. As times passed  “Training School” was removed from most schools and all schools removed “Colored” from their names. After 1950 most of the new names of African American high schools were for local individuals  who made significant contributions to their communities or the names of prominent educators, politicians and philanthropists  on the national scene such as Joseph S. Clark, Charles P. Adams, Lord Beaconfield Landry, Booker T. Washington, Mary McCleod Bethune, George Washington Carver, President William McKinley, Julius Rosenwald and Carter G. Woodson. The list of names of schools and their namesake is quite extensive.

The Second Louisiana All-State High School Biographical Annual Review lists all of the African American high schools existing in Louisiana in 1944. This almost coincided with the termination of World War II. These schools were active in preparing the African American community for a period when each community would have its own school. This period began in the 1950’s when over 200 high schools were constructed  and extended to the late 1960’s when most of the African American high schools were closed.

Dr. Henry Yale Harris Interview: Second Ward High School

Second Ward High School, nestled on the western bank of the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish was isolated by the river and by its agrarian roots. Fortunately, a young World War II veteran who served in all theaters of the war, Africa, Europe and Pacific, was chosen to engineer a high school in Edgard, Louisiana. Drawing from positive prior education experiences from his old high school, he patterned the school after a very successful secondary high school experience he had at McDonogh 35 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His success was assured , however, “in-fighting” and “ white-flight “ caused him to become a casualty as  integration was ushered onto the west bank. Both, he and Second Ward High School were replaced in the struggle for significance.  His efforts in both war and peace  should not be forgotten or underappreciated by all Americans. Please see the significant notes section for his eye-opening interview.

BEAUREGARD PARISH TRAINING SCHOOL NATIONAL REGISTER ENTRY ADDED TO SIGNIFICANT NOTES

Beauregard Parish Training School’s (BPTS) entry in the national register of historic places has been added into the significant notes section of the site. This is one of the few schools that we have information for in the List of High Schools by Parish Section and Significant Notes section. If you combine this information with the information from alumni, you will have a very detailed history of the school and history surrounding the school’s creation and effect on the Deridder, Louisiana African American Community.  BPTS entered the national register of historic places on March 1996.

This entry not only displays the historical importance of Beauregard Parish Training School, it also shows the importance of alumni contributions to history. Information from both sources have different points of emphasis. The government cannot be the sole historical provider.

St. Matthew’s High School added to Significant Notes

St. Matthew’s High School of Melrose, LA is the latest entry to the Significant Notes section of the site.

St. Matthews High School of Natchitoches Parish was the first public high school building constructed for African Americans in Lower Natchitoches Parish.  When it opened in 1952, it was one of two public senior high schools for African Americans in the Natchitoches Parish.  This entry from the National Register of Historic Places shows the growth of the school from a “church school” serving elementary schools in 1916, until its growth to a full fledged high school in 1952.

Despite the name, St. Matthew’s was a public school with its original classes held in the church.  

St. Matthews High School discontinued in 1989. 

Creation, Reconstruction, and Desegregation – Paul Breaux High School – Lafayette, La

TigerIn the Significant Notes Section:  “The Black Side of Desegregation: The History of Paul Breaux High School”

On February 4th, 1982,  Louisiana Public Broadcasting presented an episode of “Folks” featuring Sharon Elizabeth’s Sexton’s documentary about the history of Paul Breaux High School in Lafayette Parish. “The Black Side of Desegregation: The History of Paul Breaux High School” Part I details everything from the opening of the school by Paul Breaux in 1989 until desegregation in 1970.  Part II details the immediate effects of desegregation on the African American Community in Lafayette as the county enforced integration. The documentary reminds the viewer various controversies construction of the second school. It also tells the viewer that desegregation was not merely as simple as placing African American people together with Caucasian people. 

 

Plaisance High School – 1 of the 2 Last Remaining Rosenwald Schools in Louisiana

Plaisance High 2We have added Plaisance High School to the SIGNIFICANT NOTES SECTION.  Plaisance High School of Opelousas, LA was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. It is the only Rosenwald School in the state of Louisiana in its original location. The other remaining school in Davidsonville was moved there. Plaisance High School was consolidated into North West High School on June 30th 1991 and is now known as Plaisance Elementary School. Opelousas students from fifth to eighth grade are taking classes in the historical classrooms.  

 

Cohn High School – Only High School in West Baton Rouge Parish added to Significant Notes

Cohn High School has been added to the Significant Notes portion of the site.

Cohn High School in Port Allen, Louisiana was the only African American High School in West Baton Rouge Parish.  It ran from 1949-1969. Prior to its opening, West Baton Rouge Parish’s African American children attended school for grades 1-8 at The Port Allen Colored School. After eighth grade, students had to stay with family or strangers in Iberville Parish or Baton Rouge City. The establishment of Cohn High School enabled the African American youth to attend college and contribute to the education and development of Port Allen. Cohn High School closed due to integration in 1969. Despite the efforts of the Alumni Association, the school was demolished in 2014 due to its condition.

The West Baton Rouge Museum commemorated the school with a special exhibit from February – March 2016. The exhibition received an Award of Merit on September 16, 2016. 

Recent news:

WBR Museum receives national award for exhibition.

From WBRZ: ALUMNI REMEMBER COHN HIGH BEFORE DEMOLITION

 

Bethune Jr-Sr High School Significant Notes

Bethune Jr-Sr High School’s application to the National Register of Historic Places has been added to the SIGNIFICANT NOTES section of the site. This school was very important because of its importance as a center of education for African American students after its opening in 1961 and the time period of its construction. Bethune Jr-Senior High school is now known as Oak Park Elementary Middle School. Read its history and enjoy the extensive photograph collection.