Sumpter Williams High School History
The Morgan City Academy was founded in the late 1870’s. The original school burned down in 1919 and moved to a temporary location in Morgan City. In 1920 the Morgan City Academy was housed in a building in the back of the Mount Zion Church on Fourth street. The school operated at this location until 1920. In 1920 a new school building for Negro students named Morgan City Colored School was built. This new school was located on Seventh street. It was initially known as a Rosenwald school. The school was a gift from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation which partnered with the local citizens and the local city government to create and build schools for Negro students in the south.
The Rosenwald school was a four-room school that had backless wooden benches, a desk and a pot-bellied stove. The principal was Mr. Felix Tucker and Miss Annie (Sims) Kyle was the assistant principal. Discipline and attention to detail were strongly emphasized because there were only two teachers for all of the students in grades one through eight. The land for the school was donated by Mr. C.R. Brownell. The school principal that replaced Mr. Felix Tucker was Mr. G.W. Hamilton.
After the great flood of 1927 destroyed the school that was then named Morgan City Colored High school, the school was moved to the Masonic Hall on Greenwood Street. Classes were held upstairs and downstairs in this two-story building. The school served grades one through six.
In 1933 the school was moved to a lot on Everett street. The school consisted of four one story buildings with grades ranging from first through seventh. Each year a new grade was added. The class of 1939 was the first class to graduate from Morgan City Colored High School. There were seventeen graduates in the class of 1939.
Some of the teachers during this time frame were Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Rosa Warmsley, Mrs. Hazel Johnson Davis, Miss Thelma Young, Miss Marcel, Miss Julia Jones, Miss Penn, Mr. James Hernandez, and the principal Mr. George Washington Hamilton.
Morgan City Colored High School remained at this location until property was purchased by the St. Mary Parish School Board and a building was erected on the corners of Railroad Avenue and Myrtle streets.
Later the Morgan City Colored High School was renamed Sumpter Williams High School in honor of Mr. Sumpter Williams (1862-1929), who was active in local African American politics and the St. John Lodge Number 11, Free & Ancient Masons. In 1880 he was a milkman living with his father, John Williams, who was a local ferryman. Twenty years later his occupation was listed as an “Ice Dealer”. By 1910 he owned a grocery store and had eight daughters and two sons. One of his daughters Ruth R. Williams later became principal of the high school named after him…. SUMPTER WILLIAMS HIGH SCHOOL.
Info provided by Viola Wilson Taylor, Class of 1939