Creating Caring and Nurturing Educational Environments for African American Children

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

school building was closed and later demolished. The new standard-size gymnasium that had been proudly dedicated on May 1, 1960, was torn down along with the other buildings that had been constructed decades earlier. The last graduation exercise for Trenholm High School students was held in that gymnasium on June 4, 1968. This institution, which had served as the unifying force for the African American community for more than 90 years, was gone.

We developed a great interest in telling this story in the 1970s during regular visits to our hometown as we listened to our younger cousins, nephews, and nieces discuss many of their experiences at the newly desegregated high school, the former all-white school across town. As we talked with retired and practicing teachers and administrators, students, and community activists to develop a framework for our story, we learned that not only had the physical structure been destroyed, but most of the memorabilia documenting the history of the school had been vandalized, destroyed, or given away. We thought about all the athletic and band trophies that had been proudly displayed in the halls near the main entrance, the photographs of graduating classes, the official records that documented our long history, and the memorial in front of the building that held the names of african American men in our community who were soldiers during World War II. In that space was a much needed lowincome housing complex, with no visual evidence that the school had ever existed. It became our charge to reconstruct as accurately as possible the history of African American public education in our town for ourselves, our community, and for those yet unborn.

As we proceeded to complete the research to write this story, we found stories that other African American scholars had reconstructed that had many experiences common to our school community. In the process, we discovered that there was a wider community that needed to read this story. We know now that the voices of African American students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders must be heard and understood as policymakers work together with communities to plan effective schools for all children in this country. An understanding both of the factors that African Americans believed contributed to making segregated schools good educational environments for their children as well as the impact of school desegregation in their communities will also help us to understand what we need in all communities from our schools. This case study of Trenholm High School contributes to that understanding.

This book is designed to be used by graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in early childhood, elementary, and secondary teacher education programs as well as students of educational administration. This book will also be of value in courses focusing on urban studies, urban education, and African and African American studies programs that address African American education in the United States. Both scholars and practitioners in education, as well as parents, community leaders, and other laypeople will find this book a useful

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