Crepe Myrtle High School/J.S. Slocum High School History
Crepe Myrtle High School, later renamed J.S. Slocum High, was opened for black students in Pineville communities including Wardville, Smithville, and Ruby. It opened despite the 1955 Supreme Court decision, made more than a decade earlier, that school systems should desegregate.
“They are very positive memories surrounding the school even under the circumstances and the reasons we ended up being there,” said Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields, a member of the school’s last graduating class. “For us, it was home.”
The school only graduated seven classes before closing in 1973, four years after white students were assigned to the school under a mandatory desegregation plan for Rapides Parish schools. The first graduating class had about 30 students.
“We were very elated that we got a high school in Pineville for blacks,” Pineville resident Johnetta Compton Williams said. “Our parents and a civil rights organization called ‘Help Planners’ worked very hard to get us a black high school over here because we were attending Peabody High School (in Alexandria).”
“We wanted a school in our own area, and we weren’t allowed to go to Pineville High,” said Doretha Jones. “It was a very big deal … and made us want to do better in academics and sports, so our class achieved a lot.”
Jones said the school excelled in sports and belonged to the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Organization, an athletic association that black high schools belonged to before integration.
“A lot of my memories are of the teachers,” Fields said. “They were a special group.”