Edwards Schools for African Americans in the 1950s

Earlier posts about Edwards schools featured the 1941 National Youth Administration’s gymnasium and school improvements and swimming pool funded by the Civil Works Administration in 1934.  Today’s post will feature the schools for African Americans in Edwards and Hinds County during the 1950s.

In 1955, Edwards boasted:

Edwards school facilities for Negro students are ahead of the times for Mississippi particularly in the elementary grades.  Three years ago, a new brick building, modern and attractive, was built for students of grades one through six. (Clarion-Ledger, March 6, 1955, p. 41)

Edwards 3

Edwards Elementary School for African American students in 1956. Source: Series 1513 Scrapbook, MDAH Digital Archives

Junior High students attend school in an older frame building, and high school students attend the Hinds School in Utica. (Clarion-Ledger, March 6, 1955, p. 41)

Edwards Junior High

Edwards Junior High School for African American students in 1956. Source: Series 1513 Scrapbook, MDAH Digital Archives

Edwards school enrollment for African American students was “nearly four times the size of the white school population” in 1955.  White student enrollment for grades 1-12 in 1955 was 165 students.  African American enrollment was 579 students.

Other schools in Hinds County and Mississippi as a whole clearly did not fare well under the “equalization program” of the 1940s and 1950s.  Charles C. Bolton dissected Mississippi’s efforts to maintain a dual education system, noting that “educational equalization was never a viable alternative” largely due to economic reasons because of limited resources, and that the efforts failed to improve black education in the state.

Indeed, as late as 1962 the average Mississippi school district, despite sixteen years of state-sponsored equalization measures, still spent nearly four dollars  per capita in local instruction funds on white children for every dollar expended on black students. (Mississippi State Department of Education, as cited in Bolton, 2005)

Currently, Edwards lists the Edwards Attendance Center (Edwards), the Bolton Edwards Elementary school (Bolton), and a Head Start program (Edwards).

Bolton, C. C. (2000). Mississippi’s School Equalization Program, 1945-1954: “A last gasp to try to maintain a segregated educational system.” (2000). The Journal of Southern History, 66(4), 781-814.


Categories: Historic Preservation


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