Booker T. Washington School

The first school for black children in the city of Philadelphia was held in the Black Masonic Lodge just off Wilson Street. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Stephens organized the school with Mrs. Stephens being one of the first teachers. The school’s name was Neshoba County School. The next location for the black school was on the east side of the railroad track, just off Rea Street, where the feed mill is now located. The three-room structure, which was built in the late 1920s, was financed by the Rosenwald Foundation. In 1917, Julius Rosenwald created the Rosenwald Foundation to help build schools for African-Americans in the decades before the end of segregation. He encouraged blacks and whites to work together to build the schools. His foundation helped to build more than 5,300 structures across the rural South, with the second highest number in Mississippi. Of the almost 600 structures in the state, only eleven remain. Small additions to this school were made, including a home economics class and an industrial shop. The name of the school was changed in 1939 to Neshoba County Training School. A new building was ready for occupancy for the 1948-1949 term. Mr. Watts was principal and the school’s name was changed to Booker T. Washington. In the early 1950s a band program was established and named the Booker T. Washington Hornets. At this same time, an organized athletic program was begun. Due to integration, the school closed in 1970 and was vacant for several years. Today, it houses the Philadelphia Head Start, and the gym is used for parks and recreation activities.

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Sources:

Neshoba County: African-American Heritage Driving Tour of Philadelphia Mississippi.http://www.neshobajustice.com/documents/RootsofStruggle.pdf