August 13, 2018 by DuboisOnMain
On September 1, 2018, around noon, DuBois on Main, along with DuBois reunion attendees and others, will honor the former school by attending the dedication ceremony that will be held at the location of the “New DuBois High School” on the Bypass in Turkey Knob to commemorate a unique historical occurrence.
The original DuBois High School was erected in 1917 on a hilltop in Macdonald and destroyed by fire on June 22, 1950. This resulted in students from DuBois Jr. High and DuBois High School attending school in makeshift classrooms for almost four years. The Jr. High, 7th and 8th grade students attended classes in the basement of First Union Baptist Church on the corner of Madison and Monroe Streets. High School students attended classes in spaces created in First Baptist Church on S. Fayette Street, in Principal Chiles’ basement, and two other temporary buildings. One, the band building on the corner of S. Fayette and Mound Streets caught fire a year after opening and all equipment was lost. Through the support of the community and businesses, the recovery gave students better instruments. The other temporary building was next to the local store, American Hardware. Interestingly enough, students also attended classes in areas of the hardware store where many youngsters delighted in seeing students in a store front doing classwork.
After almost four years, the brand new, state-of-the-art DuBois High School opened for classes on Monday, February 1, 1954 with the three day Open House Celebrations culminating after school from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Monday.
NOTE: These ads take up half a page or more and while it is a fact that DuBois had highly educated teachers, the story about hiring Negroes to work on the new building seems to be a total fabrication. No one around has heard of any black man claiming to have worked on building that school. Fact, for the young readers, women WERE NOT employed in this kind of environment at that time. (Look around now.) A well-known fact is if any black man had been employed and lived in this general area, or probably in the state, it would have been a proud situation and “the whole world” would have known about it. The newspaper didn’t name a soul. The huge ads speak of the best…highest quality, newest, etc. It is apparent the Board of Education was aware of the Brown vs Board of Education suit which started in 1952 and was expected to declare segregation unconstitutional. This would result in the newest high school in the county being named after a famous black man! To offset that possibility, the school was built to standards that could be considered appropriate for white students. DuBois students enjoyed the new facility for a couple years while a few other locations in the state put integration in place. The Fayette County BOE decided at their May 1956 board meeting to put this plan into action for the term beginning in the fall of 1956. DuBois was desegregated and black students went to schools closer to where they lived.
Because of the interest in black history this past decade, many, many years after DuBois High had been desegregated by bringing the white students from Mt. Hope High into the new school and renaming it Mt.Hope High, Marshall University historians noticed something interesting here. Because schools for black students were not built to the same standards as schools for white students, they did not last very long. Here in Mt. Hope, the white elementary school built in the 1920’s is still in use. The fact that the black DuBois High was desegregated….NOT the white Mt. Hope High, was totally an anomaly.
That is the very fact that qualified DuBois High School as deserving of a West Virginia state historical marker.