Albion Black History – West Ward School

West Ward School, Albion Michigan
West Ward School, Albion Michigan

We are sharing a link to early Black History, when some Albion families wanted a separate school.

Even though the people who wanted West Ward school originally had good intentions, the result was a substandard school for some Albion youth.

Click on the image to get to the story about West Ward School. or click the link below

http://www.placepromo.com/aih/buildings/ps_westward.htm)

Here are some excerpts from that page:

“The exact circumstances and reasons surrounding the transformation of West Ward School into an all-black school are varied. Decisions were made in special meetings between various parties during the 1917-18 school year, and school board records do not record the details of such meetings. Two prominent opinions have been given concerning the reasons West Ward School was turned into an all-black school.

The first reason states that it was local black leaders who ironically themselves wanted West Ward School to be a school exclusively for their people, and taught by their people. This would supposedly provide a more familiar and less hostile atmosphere for the students than they would experience if they had to attend other schools. Related, the students could thereby be taught according to the style to which they had been accustomed.

A related second opinion which has been circulated is that local blacks wanted to have black teachers hired into the school system, thus providing some employment for their own people. Whatever the reasons were, history proved that the “establishment” was more than happy to oblige, and placed the black children in West Ward School.

West Ward became an all-black facility on January 2, 1918. This fact can be deduced from several sources. Dalrymple School, under construction for two years, opened on the aforementioned date. The white teachers who formerly had been teaching at West Ward in the fall of 1917 were transferred there, according to the teacher salary lists of 1917 and 1918. Individual records of white students living in the West Ward “colored” boundaries are listed as being taught by these white teachers who were all transferred to Dalrymple School. Apparently there was no mixing of the races at West Ward School after December, 1917.

A two-room addition was built onto West Ward School in 1919 at a cost of $7,500 in order to accommodate the increased number of students. This followed a vote of taxpayers on July 7, 1919 for the additional funds, which was heartily approved, 95 to 8. Thus West Ward School was officially segregated, a situation which continued until the school closed in late 1953.

Judy Powell wrote:

West Ward was described as being dark, damp, small and cheerless. In one teacher’s opinion, the limited supplies and equipment that were available to the school were discarded from the other elementary schools.”

 

Source:

Isaac David Kremer, Albion Interactive History, www.placepromo.com/aih, 2001-2011, [4-23-16].