Creating Caring and Nurturing Educational Environments for African American Children

By Vivian Gunn Morris; Curtis L. Morris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

George Washington Trenholm: The Role of the Principal in the African American Community

Every observant student of man well knows that ignorance is a curse, be it voluntary or involuntary. Its record through all the ages is sufficient evidence. Truly it has been said: “Ignorance, added to the handicap of color, is too fearful a load with which to burden a child.” In the long run, education is much cheaper than ignorance. School houses cost much less than jails. Teachers and educators are cheaper than judges and other court officials.

George Washington Trenholm, April 4, 1912


GEORGE WASHINGTON TRENHOLM AND THE TIMES

George Washington Trenholm was elected the third principal of the Tuscumbia Colored Public School (named Trenholm High School in 1921) on August 14, 1896, just three months after the Supreme Court issued its Plessy v. Ferguson decision on May 18, 1896, making “separate but equal” the law of the land. Cash (1996) writes that:

Until it was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas in 1954, the Plessy case made it lawful for nearly sixty more years to deny African-Americans equal protection under the law by forcing them to accept the notion of “separate-butequal” accommodations in public and semipublic facilities, parks, waiting rooms, bus and railroad services, and the schooling of their children. Today, nearly 100 years later, the separate and unequal conditions of schooling for hundreds of thousands of African-American children may more nearly approximate the post-Reconstruction era of Plessy than the court-ordered desegregation era following Brown. (p. 359)

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