Black Schools in Columbia County

The Columbia County Cultural Center ( a part of the Southwest Arkansas Community Development Corporation--SWACDC) is researching the history of African-American public education prior to integration inthe county. It is collecting oral histories and gathering records, artifacts, and memorabilia. Plans include housing a permanent exhibit in a Cultural Center in the former Columbia High School, an African-American High School in the era of segregation.

A video---"A Place We Called Our Own: A History of Black Schools in Columbia County, Arkansas"--- with interviews of former students, teachers, and staff will be available in September 1998.

For more information, contact SWACDC, located at the former Columbia High School, at 611 South Madison, P.O. Box 863, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753. Mr. Dwight Holmes is the director. He can be reached at 1-870-234-3700.

A selection of materials gathered by the Cultural Center is linked below:

Black Communities and School Districts in Columbia County, 1900-1938

A. Distribution of Negro Communities, 1900-   B. Distribution of Negro School Districts, 
   1938 (Buffington, p. 24)                      1900-1938 (Buffington, p. 26) 

The video --- "A Place We Called Our Own: A History of Black Schools in Columbia County, Arkansas" ---
reveals that at one time there were eighteen (18) independent black school districts and as many as thirty-four
(34) individual black schools in the county. According to an article in the Magnolia Banner News of August
24, 1939, there were three 4-year high schools for blacks, one each at McMittress, Magnolia, and Forest Grove;
three 2-year high schools, one each at Friendship, Noxube, and Hobson; and twenty-four elementary schools
at Antioch, St. Matthews, Shady Grove, Creek, New Hope, Mt. Pleasant, Cypress Fork, Mt. Calm, Pine Grove, Waldo, Cottonville, Emerson, Taylor, FreeHope, Beech, Atlanta, Walker, Burton, Hopewell, McNeil, St. James,
Smithland, Rocky Hill, and Damascus.

McMittress was consolidated with Emerson School District in 1949 and operated as a segregated institution
until 1969 when its students began attending Emerson schools.

Legislation in Arkansas in 1948 required small districts to consolidate. But black schools had been consolidating
for years.

By 1949 Walker was the only black school district left in Columbia County.

1. Columbia High School--photos and narrative

2. Hobson High School--photos

3. Fair Bank Buffington, "A Study of the Development and Decline of Certain Types of Negro Public School Administrations in Columbia County, Arkansas" (M.A. thesis, Fisk University, 1955)