Former ‘Separate, But Equal’ School Risks Being ‘Swapped’ Out Of History

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central high school, effingham county, equalization schoolThough many of the students (like Norma J. Wallace pictured) who attended the formerly segregated Central High School in Effingham County are likely pleased that their school is no longer an active symbol of racial animus, its alumni do not want the history of their school to be “swapped” out of the public memory, Savannah Morning News reports.

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Right now, there is a deal in place for Effingham County to swap 97 acres of underdeveloped vacant land to the board of eduction for 23 acres of land on which the former high school sits. The deal should be completed this summer, according to the Savannah News.

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But alumni are concerned that the county may not preserve the history of the school. County officials recently chose to house the new county jail at the current jail location rather than the former high school, for example.

Central High School was one of Georgia’s “equalization schools” created to resist intergration and prove that “separate, but equal” schools were, in fact, an affective means of educating the state’s children.

The Savannah News has more:

“I appreciate the history of the school and am interested in preserving that,” said county Commissioner Steve Mason, who also attended the recent meeting of the school’s alumni. “I don’t think there’s anybody that has any intention of bulldozing the school.”

Mason said some of the buildings could be used as an administrative area for the sheriff’s office. A youth leadership academy also would be a good use for the buildings, he said.

The alumni group, led in part by Goldwire, is interested in starting a parent university and tutorial after-school program.

“Our organization is in it for the long haul,” Goldwire said. “We vow to continue this mission even if we have to package it up and put it on the back of a pickup truck.”

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it is not uncommon for former equalization schools to be used for purposes other than history landmarks. For example, one  former equalization school in Pearson, Georgia is now a church. Another is used as a homeless shelter in Morven.

So far, no decision has been made on the future of the school. Go to the Savannah Morning News for more on this story.

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