ESHS deserves its markerPublished 10:33pm Saturday, July 21, 2012
The days of segregated education in Virginia are rightfully in the state’s past, but they live on in the memories of those who were forced to attend separate and unequal schools not because of their intellectual ability, not because of their family’s level of wealth, but simply because of their skin color.
The painful reality of segregation is what forced black students to attend East Suffolk High School separate from the schools that white students attended. But by all accounts of those who attended there, the school was a thriving community where the principal, W. Lovell Turner, genuinely cared, the teachers were strict, the students learned and everyone grew.
The school was built with a contribution from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which provided seed money to construct schools for black students in the rural South from 1917 through 1932.
With the help of more money donated from the community, the elementary school was built in the 1920s, and the high school was added in 1939. The first class graduated in 1940, and the last graduated in 1965, when John F. Kennedy High School was built.
After about 40 years of being used for organization offices or just sitting vacant, the buildings took on a new purpose when they were converted to a recreation center and the headquarters of Parks and Recreation.
Alumni of the school want its history recognized. That’s why they were so pleased recently when a historical marker was approved for the site.
The East Suffolk Alumni Association applied for the marker, and now has a set of fundraisers planned to pay for it.
The community would do well to support these fundraisers so the marker can be placed soon. Official recognition of the school has gone undone for far too long already.