Marshall-Carver High School (Site of) Historical Marker

(Marshall-Carver High School
building no longer exist - this marker is located next to the cemetery at Blue Hole Park.)

Google Map

GPS Coordinates
North 30.64188 - West -97.68173
UTM 14 R - easting 626323 - northing 3390655

Address: 210 block Scenic Dr

Historical Marker text

The first school for African American students in Georgetown was established in the early 20th century. Called "The Colored School," the institution served grades 1 through 8 and provided the only local educational opportunities for African Americans. The school's principal, Mr. S. C. Marshall, was an outspoken advocate of higher education. A scholar himself, he persuaded the school board to allow him to provide classes through the high school level. He named the new program "The Georgetown Colored High School," and the first student enrolled in 1913. A new high school building was erected in 1923 due to increasing enrollment.

When Marshall left the school in 1930, it was renamed Marshall School in his honor. The name was changed to George Washington Carver in the 1940s. In 1962, the parents of seventeen Carver students who had been denied admission to Georgetown's white schools filed a lawsuit in U. S. District Court to force integration. The court ordered the Georgetown Independent School District to integrate one grade level per year beginning with the first grad.e Partial integration began in the fall of 1964.

Convinced that gradual integration would not benefit their children, African American parents appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court which upheld the lower court's verdict. Proponents of full and immediate integration engaged in a letter-writing campaign to the U. S. Attorney General, the U. S. Department of Health, education and Welfare, and the Federal Assistance Program urging another review of the case. In the fall of 1965, the Georgetown School Board agreed to a plan to complete integration of the school system by September 1967. The Carver School was permanently closed due to integration.

Narratives from the Georgetown's Yesteryears Book

A special thanks to The Georgetown Heritage Society and Martha Mitten Allen for letting us post these wonderful first-person stories.

THE BLACK SCHOOL oral history

by Woodie J. Givens: -- Chris Janning, Interviewer

I went to school down on the Ridge, where most of the black kids went to school. I passed, almost literally, by the school that Miss Annie Purl was principal of. I went from 15th street, down Hart Street, and then across town until I got down on the Ridge and went down to the end of the Ridge almost to the Blue Hole, and there was the Black School.

At that time, cotton was king. There were very few blacks, whites, or any children in Georgetown who didn't pick cotton. All of them picked cotton. And I wanted to pick cotton. At that time, my father, Reverend Walter James Green, who was a minister and a teacher, had died, and I was the only child. I suppose that is the reason I am named Woodie James Green instead of Mary or something. I was named after my father, Reverend Walter James Green. When my father died, and my mother was alone, she had a phobia that something would happen to me. And as a result, she didn't mean to tell a story, but she would tell me, "Yes, Woodie, you can pick cotton as soon as it gets a little cooler." She knew that school would start in September. Many times I've been the only child in my class at school until the others got through picking cotton about October and came in. Sometimes there were two of us. And I have been there alone.

My family was not aloof but clannish. I have even had an uncle take me to school.

This teacher from Victoria roomed in his house, and he drove us to school. She saw a black cat go across the path, and she said, "Oh, Mr. Van Hoose, turn around, you're going to have bad luck. There's a black cat." Well, Turner said nothing—they didn't do a lot of talking—but he came back, and he told Mamma, "I don't want Woodie to be taught by that woman. She's too ignorant. Anybody who is afraid of a black cat is too ignorant to teach Woodie."

We didn't call it prejudice because that was the status quo. Black children went to black schools. Mexican children went down in Grasshopper to a Mexican school. The Mexicans did go to High School, but very, very few of them finished. I can recall when it was just a seven-day wonder for a Mexican to finish high school. I remember one Mexican girl who finished high school. Later, Southwestern gave a theology course, and a Mexican boy came here to go to school to get his bachelor of theology. This girl was possibly the only Mexican girl that he could relate to, who had 12 years of schooling, and they married.

The Black School was a school like all schools because it was the only school I knew. It was a white stone building. I first went to a little school for two years, off from there, a little frame building. I don't remember that too well. I went there in the first and second grades. This new school was built when I was in the third grade, and I went there. It was a stone school. I think that must have gone from the first to the third grades. Behind that was fourth, fifth, and sixth, no doubt. Across the hall was home economics, the whole side. It was better than any of the homes that we lived in because it had hardwood floors. There were very few hard-wood floors among the blacks' houses in Georgetown when I was born, and not too many among the whites. A few [houses] on University Avenue had hardwood floors.

Marshall-Carver High School in Georgetown, Texas

Narrative History
Researched and written by:
Henrietta Munoz
City of Georgetown

Marshall-Carver High School Narrative History

Within your walls, we've learned the road to fame. Forward we go, to greater heights untold. [1]

The early twentieth century is sometimes phrased as the second great age of reform in America: the progressive era. [2] This era is characteristic of American citizens responding to the industrial revolution. Americans needed to respond in order to make better the societal and governmental problems that developed due to corruption and the fast pace growth of communities. American citizens began organizing reform movements in order to alleviate some of the societal problems, such as labor laws and social injustices. The presidency was one of a larger issue of injustice. Theodore Roosevelt harbored the injustices of racism and thus forced rising black leaders to organize on their own. Black leader, W. E. B. Du Bois called to action progressives like Jane Addams, John Dewey, and Oswald Garrison Villard (the grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison). Along with the fight to gain civil rights, equal job opportunities, and an end to segregation, Du Bois and the progressives created in 1910 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the spearhead for the civil rights movements of the 1960s. [3] These movements, happening in the larger macro area of society, had great effects on the more local communities of the American South.

The Jim Crow laws, passed in the South during the 1880s to segregate the races, carried over into the public educational school systems enforcing a mandate of "separate but equal" for students of color.

However, this mandate allowed for schools to be "more separate than equal, [4] as was the case in other public systems. In the city of Georgetown, Texas, the black schools, in operation from approximately 1.910 to 1965, "received little public funding, often operated with inadequate facilities, and were issued outdated equipment and books that had been discarded by white schools. [5] Mrs. Ethel Moore and Mrs. Birdie Shanklin, 1944 graduates of the Marshall-Carver school, reiterate their experiences of having to make do with the hand-me-down books, uniforms, and equipment that came from the larger Georgetown High School. [6] However, despite the ill-received resources for the black schools in Georgetown, the African American community remained positive about their commitment to educational excellence.

The school that best symbolizes the community's drive for excellent education is the Marshall-Carver High School. "Built, maintained, and supported largely through community efforts, this school provided a firm intellectual foundation for Georgetown's black students—many of whom are respected professionals today." [7] However, the Marshall-Carver school was not built out of anywhere. The school is part of a legacy that started with the first school for African American children, "The Colored School," which was established around the turn of the century. This school contained grades one through eight and was bounded on the north by 4th Street and on the west by the Missouri-Pacific railroad tracks, which ran parallel to Timber Street (today, Martin Luther King Street). [8] "Teachers who worked at the Colored School before 1920 included S.C. Marshall, principal, and seventh and eighth-grade teacher; Madge D. Hall, first and second grades; Tom Ella Bradshaw, third and fourth grades; Hattie E. Thompson, fifth and sixth grades; and Lucy C. Marshall, home economics. [9]

Characteristic of the times and similar to other small towns and cities, this grade school was the only formal education provided to the African American community of Georgetown.

It was thought by many Anglo people that African American children did not need an education due to their limited opportunities in society and other responsibilities drawing them away from education.") However, Colored School principal S.C. Marshall felt determined to alter the minds of his community and the rest of the Georgetown citizenship in order to provide opportunities for blacks. Below is a brief description from the Histories of Pride text about S.C. Marshall and his involvement in building the first secondary school:

A scholar himself, Marshall held undergraduate degrees from Tillotson College, the Tuskeegee Institute, and Prairie State Normal College, and a graduate degree from Fisk University. Throughout college, he had been a prizewinning orator as well as a class leader. Upon his move to Georgetown, he became a deacon at the Ebenezer Baptist church. Dedicated to his career and to the community, Marshall knew that his students deserved more than just elementary schooling. Around 1912 he went before the school board and persuaded them to allow him to provide instruction through the high school level. He named the new program 'The Georgetown Colored High School.' Then, in 1913, he accepted his first secondary-level pupil, Lois Palm. [11]

In May 1916, Lois Palm was to become the first black student in Georgetown history to graduate from high school, a noted community event.

This first graduation held at the Wesley Chapel, A.M.E. Church, was a precedent-setting celebration that started the legacy of a growing educated African American community. [12]

With the growing popularity of the school and Marshall's high school program, a new building was erected in order to better accommodate the students and faculty. Professor Marshall instigated the building of the new limestone school in 1923. This school, built at the corner of Timber and 2nd Streets (today, where Scenic Drive begins), housed five classrooms and a home economics room. [13] The building of the new school meant the hiring of new teachers. Three new teachers were hired; Lavera F. Jones, Viola Grant, and Coach Felix E. Garrett. Furthermore, the building of the new school not only brought new facilities to the community, but it also brought a sense of pride and encouragement to the black citizens living in and around "the Ridge." [14]

"The first diplomas were awarded at the new school in May 1924, and for the remainder of the decade, Georgetown students excelled in literary, athletic, and homemaking contests at the county, district, and state levels." [15] Mrs. Paulette Taylor, a 1964 graduate and now an educator at the Carver elementary school (Georgetown), describe her extracurricular experiences while attending the Marshall-Carver school:

I played high school basketball, played tennis, ran track, did UIL essay writing and spelling, and everywhere we went, we went on this one little old school bus. We didn't look at it as discrimination though . . . we accepted it as the way it was. We took what we had and made the best of it . . . and we had fun. [16]

Marshall-Carver Students did not feel as if they were getting a second-rate education; rather, their experiences were of good times and lessons only replicable in strong-minded families. By the end of the 1920s, the school was fully accredited for college entrance. [17]

Professor Marshall eventually left the school for a job offer at Huston-Tillotson college (1930).

A minister from the local Friendly Will Baptist Church, W. A. Westbrook took Marshall's place as principal. The school was then renamed the Marshall High School. During the 1940s, a student named Verlia Mae Edwards pushed for the school's name to be changed to Carver High School. There is no clear history of the reason for the name change. The school retained the Carver name until its closing in 1965. [18]

Ultimately, dissatisfaction with segregation closed the Carver school. Up until then, African American residents felt somewhat satisfied with what they had, "we [blacks] never knew anything different." [19] However, just before the onset of the Civil Rights Movement, Georgetown citizens began demanding better facilities or integration into the larger Georgetown school system. Despite the educational opportunities at the Carver school, the African American community felt it was time to integrate the schools. In September 1962, a Georgetown resident, Harvey Miller, filed a lawsuit against Joe Barns, Superintendent of the Georgetown Independent School District. Mr. Miller filed the lawsuit for his daughters, Crystal Ann Miller, Linda Susan Miller, and Mitte Kathryn Miller, on the basis of action "to enjoin defendants from assigning the minor Plaintiffs to any public schools in Georgetown Independent School District on the basis of classification of race or color. Basis of jurisdiction: 14th Amendment to the Constitution of U.S." [20] Consequently, the result was partial integration in the fall of 1964 and complete integration in 1965.

It is apparent that today's public schools are no longer under the mandate of "separate but equal."

Therefore, the citizens of Georgetown must remember the importance of the Carver (now Marshall-Carver) school. The years that the Marshall-Carver school was in operation brought about a sense of family and community between and among the African American residents of Georgetown. Paulette Taylor explains that the school provided a first-rate foundation of ethics and the ability to achieve excellence. [21]

A few of the Carver graduates and their accomplishments are listed: Minnie Moore Jefferson, Paulette Taylor, Woodie Givens, Agnes Wilson, Hattie Thomas, Hassel Tanksley, and Winfred Bonner attended college and became teachers; Rocky Lou Jefferson Thrash, Lenore Taylor Levi, and Nora Rose became registered nurses; other college graduates include Addie Wilson, Shealia Saddler, Carl Henry, and Juanita Edwards; Madella Hilliard became a preschool teacher, and Winfred Bonner served as the first African American elected to the Georgetown City Council. [22] These once Marshall-Carver graduates were or are now prominent professionals within their fields. These students are evidence that the school positively influenced the lives of many. Marshall-Carver graduates continue to hold regular class reunions and the Georgetown African American community continues to keep the tradition of educational excellence alive. Even though the Marshall-Carver school no longer stands, the memories and lessons of the early black school are still remembered.

Researched and written by:

Henrietta Munoz

City of Georgetown