History of Central Colored High School
Just as the history of France, from the overthrow of the Directory in 1799, to the battle of Waterloo in1815, forms the biography of Napoleon Bonaparte so does the history of Central Colored High School for the past twenty years from the biography of our principal, R. E. Brown, Sr. The story of this man’s life is a lasting monument to sheer courage and determination. With these two qualities as his only resources, Principal Brown fought his way up from comparative obscurity to a place in the “sun”.
Two years before the erection of the first brick building, Professor L. F. Thomas, Manual Training Instructor for the Negro schools in the city, asked Professor R. E. Brown, who was Dean of the Science Department of the A. and M. College, at Normal, Ala., to allow his name to be used as a candidate for the for the principalship. Professor Brown refused outright. The next year Professor Thomas made a second appeal, and along with his letter came letters from Dr. D. A. Smith and Mr. Paul W. Kenchin. Soon afterwards, a letter came from Superintendent C. E. Byrd. Professor Brown, with no thought of being appointed, sent his name. However, the salary of $675.00 per year could not have been attractive, for his salary at A. and m. was $1,800.00 and an apartment.
Through a misunderstanding, Professor Thomas wired Professor Brown that he had been appointed. When Professor Brown wired the Superintendent about the message received by him, Mr. Byrd wired back the following reply: “No appointment made. You are under investigation.”
Our principal often tells us that he owes his success to the opposition of 17 prominent men of Shreveport. When he came to see why he was being investigated and not considered, he sat in the Superintendent’s office and heard each one of these seventeen men make speeches against his appointment and not one of them knew him as he sat there and listened. Thus, he was prepared to fight a winning battle.
The school emerging from Peabody, Mrs. Sallie Cole Williams, principal, began as a Junior High School, on Sept. 24th, 1917, with the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in the Elementary department and eighth, ninth, and tenth grades for the Junior High School. In May, 1918, the eleventh grade was added and Central Colored High School became a reality.
In 1923-24, a Teacher Training class was organized to meet the demands for better trained teachers for the Rural Schools of Caddo Parish. During the six years of its existence, there were more than 200 graduates from the department. It was discontinued in 1930, when the demand had been met.
In 1927-28 the first through seventh grades were moved to West Shreveport.
During the life of the school, the students have purchased one piano, thousands of dollars worth of books, over three hundred dollars worth of maps, one thousand dollars worth of visual education equipment, and over one thousand dollars worth of physical education equipment.
The policy of the school is “Not the Survival of the Fittest, but Fitting All to Survive.” The spirit of self-help has permeated the school, which is shown by the many things bought by it that are not furnished by the school board.
Timeline for African American Education in Caddo Parish
1866 By late fall, only one school for Blacks had been in operation in the entire district consisting of Bossier, Caddo and DeSoto Parishes. White outlaws terrified teachers and black students, at will.
1867 George Peabody, an American who had accumulated a fortune in America and England, instituted the fund that bears his name. This became the first large educational foundation to supposedly influence the educational development of the Negro. In Louisiana however, until the end of the Reconstruction Period, white schools profited more by the Peabody fund than did the Negro Schools.
1869 General School Act passed.
1878 Separate school systems were in the process of being formed. There were three black schools in Caddo Parish at this time. Some of the state money apportioned for public schooling was being diverted to white private schools.
1898 The state constitutional convention also made provisions for the building and maintenance of public schools by means of taxation. Southern Negroes remained deprived of any public schooling. As the Largest consumers in the south, Negroes paid most of the taxes appropriated to the support of the school for the white youth.
1900 In the first decades of the new century, most black schools were still conducted in Black churches and supported by blacks who paid tuition. This tuition was used to pay the teacher. The Black Population of Caddo Parish was 8,383. The number of Blacks enrolled in public school was 3,612.
1901 Black educators met in Alexandria and formed the Louisiana Colored Teacher’s Association (LCTA).
1907 The Negro Rural School fund was established.
1909 A black Industrial school was established in Allendale.
1910 Sixty-two percent of the Black people in Caddo Parish received 6.5% of the tax money available for education while 38% of the white population received 93.5% of the same appropriations. The colored population of Caddo Parish was 11,736 with 3,347 youth enrolled in school.
1913 The Rosenwald fund was established by Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, Illinois, to promote the building of Negro rural schoolhouses. There were 85 black schools in the parish, 26 of these were owned by the Caddo Parish School Board.
1917 Central Colored High School began classes. Central Colored High School emerged from Peabody School and began as a Junior High School on September 24th with fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in the elementary department. Eight, ninth and tenth grades comprised the junior High School.
1918 The eleventh grade was added to Central Colored High School.
1950 Central Colored High School became a junior high school.