Cool Jeanes - The Jeanes Teachers Story
by Karen Riles (2007)

American philanthropist Anna T. Jeanes (1822-1907) while at the end of her life gave $1 million to educators Booker T. Washington and Hollis B. Frissell. The donation was earmarked to establish an endowment that would benefit elementary education for African Americans in the rural South. Originally called the Fund for Rudimentary Schools for Southern Negroes, it became commonly known as the Jeanes Fund.

In 1908, money from the Fund established a program known as the Jeanes Supervisor. This special brand of teacher traveled to rural communities throughout the South to help lessen inherent educational deficiencies by training local teachers in the latest pedagogical techniques. These dedicated men and women provided instruction in simple industrial skills such as sewing, basketry, canning, and woodworking.

Today, there are still those among us who remember the Jeanes teachers and their immeasurable contributions to the improvement of education in their community.

What’s in a School Name?
by Karen Riles (2006)

Researching the story of Rosenwald schools in Texas led me to discover information about the contributions of Black Texans that I wouldn’t of known about otherwise. For example, I discovered that several of the Rosenwald schoolhouses bore the names of freedmen communities that were founded by emancipated slaves after the Civil War. In many instances, these communities were self-sufficient having their own churches, means of commerce and schools.

Names such as Jake’s Colony, St. Mary’s Colony, Sweet Home in Lee and Guadalupe County, and Kendleton are just a few of the names that appear in the records of the Rosenwald School Fund archives, indicating that the members of these communities met the stringent financial requirements to get one of these schools constructed.

When I examined the namesake of these freedmen towns, I found similarities. Typically, these rural communities were named for the individual who sold parcels of his land to other freedmen; or named for someone who contributed to the betterment of their community in some significant way.

Furthermore, the men and women for whom these places are named came out of slavery not having the benefit of a classroom education. Yet they possessed the mental and physical grit to found livable, vibrant communities where they were held in esteem among their fellow man.

 Sadly, little remains of most of these once thriving communities except for their names that might appear on a county road map or on some obscure document in an archive.

The Story Behind the Style
by Karen Riles (2006)

“No style,” said the architect from the Texas Historical Commission. I was among a small group of architects and fellow historians gathered in front of the old Carver High School for Colored in Lockhart in the spring of 1993. The 1920’s era school building was being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and my job was to write the “Statement of Significance” for the nomination. Fortunately, the architect’s assessment of the building’s architectural style in no way meant that it was historically insignificant. Such mistakes are often made about the true treasures of African American history.

I discovered that Carver was one of over 5000 schools constructed in the rural South for African American’s during the early 20th century with contributions from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. At their peak Rosenwald Schools- financed in large part through community contributions- educated more than one-third of southern Blacks.

Superficial questions about style aside, I had the information to establish a strong case for significance. The Lockhart ISD had received $1500 from the Rosenwald Fund and Carver was completed in 1923. A number of notable community leaders had both taught and attended the school and were passionate about saving it. With their help, I was able to assist the Carver High School for Colored get listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 for its association with the Rosenwald rural school building program of the early 20th century.

We hope to continue to tell the larger story of “the long black line,” and invite you to become involved.

On July 17, 2003, the MC3 film crew made a trip to Prairie View A&M University in Waller County, Texas, to sponsor a reunion of graduates from the school’s Army ROTC program. Among the distinguished guests were Maj. Clyde McQueen (Class of 1950), LTC Jiles Daniels (Class of 1954; PV Professor of Military Science & Tactics 1972 - 1975), MG Julius Parker Jr. (Class of 1955), LTG Marvin Brailsford (Class of 1959), and Col. Howard Daniel Jr. (Class of 1959).

Each of these individuals told us about their humble beginnings in rural east Texas farming and logging towns – Camden, New Braunfels, Burkeville, and Livingston. They spoke of the sacrifices their parents made to send them to school, of the hard work and moral discipline that defined their childhood, of mentors who emphasized the importance of knowledge and persistence, of the small Julius Rosenwald schools in which they trained for wisdom and character, and of the breakthrough opportunities eventually afforded to them by the United States military.

As we listened, we realized that this was the same story we had been hearing from Clinton and Herman Wright (Prairie View Class of 1951 and 1952, respectively). This success story is intensely personal for these men, but it is also the story of a generation that paved the road to the Civil Rights era. In addition, it is part of a larger, unsung story of the progress that has been made, over the course of the 20th century, by African-Americans whose goal in life was quite simply to be the best person they could be. They told us that was the secret to their success.

If you have a story that needs to be told, please submit one:

Let your story be heard!



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