Judith Y. Gibson
University of Delaware

Five Delaware citizens--Edwina B. Kruse, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Dr. W. C. Jason, Pauline A Young, and George A. Johnson--for a period of almost 100 years (1866 to 1959) directed and shepherded the education of African American youth in Delaware. Their contributions were without equal. Indeed, it was only because of their interest, concern, and commitment that many African American youth were well- educated during those years of segregation and exclusion. More than anything, these "mighty oaks" teach us that individuals can and do make a difference.

That education for all children in the state of Delaware was less than exemplary in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is indisputable (Reed, 1947; Livesay, 1968). As Livesay has suggested, "Negro education constituted one of the most disgraceful chapters in Delaware history." But, even in the worst of times, there were those who were determined that the education of black children would not be neglected.

Education of the colored citizens of Delaware was first directed by white missionaries. In 1801, the Friends Abolition Society in Wilmington established a school for the education of blacks and people of color. Approximately 20 pupils attended this school and learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. The first teacher was a member of the society. Later, in 1816, a Negro teacher was employed. By 1850, there were 187 colored students in Delaware schools, and by 1860, colored students numbered 250 (Dunbar-Nelson, 1924).

Prior to 1866, there were seven schools for colored people in the state: one at Newport, one at Odessa, two at Camden, and three in Wilmington. In that year, a group of illustrious white gentlemen created the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People, which was later renamed the Delaware Association for the Education of Colored People. This benevolent society, aided by contributions from the Freedmen's Bureau, other citizens, and foreign contributions, accumulated funds to pay teachers' salaries and materials to build schools. Within a year, the number of schools for colored youth had increased to 15. Seven of the schools were located in New Castle county and the remainder evenly divided between Kent and Sussex Counties. They had a combined enrollment of 700 pupils (Reed, 1947; Livesay, 1968).

According to Livesay, the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves (1865) had not meant the beginning of educational opportunity for black citizens in Delaware. For 10 years, a battle was waged in the state legislature by blacks and sympathetic whites to provide schools for black children. Not until 1875 was state aid finally allocated. In that year, the general assembly of the state enacted legislation that taxed colored citizens for the support of their own schools. This legislation, however, only partially satisfied the funding necessary to support teachers' salaries and to maintain schools. The good colored citizens of the state had to provide all other funding themselves. With a combination of state support and private resources, 43 Negro teachers were employed in 1890 (Livesay, 1968).

Edwina B. Kruse, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Dr. W. C. Jason, Pauline A Young, and George Anderson Johnson were all imported from other states. Delaware's history of educational neglect for its black citizens made it inevitable that when hiring was finally done, jobs would go to outsiders. Despite not being native Delawareans, each of the "mighty oaks" took up the challenge with zeal. Each engendered in their students a love of learning, academic excellence, and belief in the race. Each sought to instill in their students an understanding that they could compete favorably with white citizens. Not only did these individuals master the art of academic excellence and transfer it to their students, but each was also a visionary of the time, promoting a positive role of people of color in the United States.

Edwina B. Kruse

Edwina B. Kruse was born in Puerto Rico in 1848 of a German father and Cuban mother. The record of her life is chronicled in unpublished papers located in the University of Delaware Morris Library, Special Collections. Her life and contributions can be found in the collection entitled This Lofty Oak, an unpublished manuscript written by Alice Dunbar-Nelson.

According to Dunbar-Nelson, Kruse came to the United States in 1852. Her mother died in 1857 and her father in 1862. Following her father's death, she arrived in "that damned border state" in 1864, where she established schools in southern Delaware. The Delaware Association is attributed with bringing from Connecticut to Delaware this young woman, Edwina B. Kruse, whose duty it was to establish schools in the rural districts. According to unpublished documents, she established schools in the lower two counties. Eventually, in 1867, a school for colored children was started in Wilmington. She came to Wilmington as a teacher at the school, and later, she became its principal. This school, named Howard for General Oliver Otis Howard, superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau, was located at Twelfth and Orange Streets. For many decades, it was the only high school for colored citizens in the state of Delaware. In fact, the state of Delaware gave new meaning to the words, "boarding school" as the colored residents of all three counties were obliged to attend Howard if they wished to complete a high school education. Students from the lower two counties resided with family, friends, or teachers while attending Howard High in New Castle County. At times, pupils resided with the principal.

Edwina B. Kruse was educated in Massachusetts and at Hampton Institute and became principal of Howard School in 1881 (although some city records do not list her as principal until 1883). Edwina Kruse was attributed with bringing it from the lowly primary school to the academically excellent school that it became during the 30 years of her leadership. Some believed that Miss Kruse changed the school merely to make it more closely resemble those in which she had been taught. But, her responses to those challenges reflected a philosophy of education that was uniquely her own. When asked for example, "Why do we have drawing, just because they have it in Massachusetts?" she replied, "We are going to have the best of everything." At a time when resources for African American children were low and expectations for them even lower, this was a bold and courageous stance.

Edwina Kruse's dream for the black students of Delaware was a classical education, offered by teachers who had the best preparatory education--that is, a New England education. She understood that well-trained students had a much better chance of finding employment. She also thought that a cluster of well-trained individuals within the community could help the entire community advance. Toward that end, she envisioned not only a grand high school but also a pharmacy, a health center, a teacher's home, and a home for the elderly within the community. She is credited with the belief that, ". . . the school is for the betterment of the children, not for the convenience of the teachers." Her qualities included a love for knowledge, orderliness, organizational skills, thoroughness, a love for academic excellence, and an appreciation for culture.

Stories abound regarding the nature of the courses offered at Howard. The curriculum was demanding, with extensive and compulsory academic courses. Classes contained small numbers of students so that individual attention was de rigueur. According to Reed, the course of study at Howard High School was exemplary. This fact is confirmed by the matriculation of Howard High School graduates at numerous colleges and universities throughout the nation. Miss Kruse is also said to have spent her own inheritance to further the education of deserving Howard graduates at schools such as Lincoln University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University.

To Kruse's tribute, of the seven students in the class of 1916, one graduated from college and two from normal school. Of the nine graduates of 1917, five entered colleges outside the state and two continued in the normal department at Howard School. The class of 1918 had 12 members: one graduated from college; five attended Howard Normal; and one West Chester Normal. Other Howard students and graduates of this era are Dr. F. Douglas Stubbs, graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School, member of the U.S. Chapter of the International College of Surgeons, staff member of the Philadelphia General Hospital and the Douglass Hospital of Philadelphia; Thomas A. Webster, graduate of Lincoln University; J. Saunders Redding, Brown University graduate, author and professor of English at Hampton Institute, and later at Brown; Louis L. Redding, graduate of Harvard Law School and Delaware's first black attorney; Laurence T. Young, graduate of Ohio University and Chicago Law School; Pauline A. Young, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University (teacher, then librarian at Howard High); Winder L. Porter and his brother William, both graduates of the University of Pennsylvania; their brother Luther J. Porter, valedictorian of his Howard graduating class, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, and a teacher at Howard High for 30 years; Katherine Porter who graduated from Oberlin; and Dorothy P. Street who earned her undergraduate degree from Temple University and her graduate degree from Fisk.

Edwina Kruse also followed through on her dream to establish a home for the elderly in Wilmington. She founded the Sarah Ann White Home for the aged at 822 French Street, which later (1915) was consolidated with the Layton Home for Colored People. Lincoln University conferred upon Miss Kruse the first honorary degree of doctor of laws that it presented to a woman (Young, 1947).

Dunbar-Nelson wrote, in the January 9, 1926 edition of the Pittsburgh Courier,

"Speaking of the unobtrusive woman who does things without undue hooting through the megaphone, I am reminded of Edwina B. Kruse, of Wilmington, Delaware. She was educated in New England, and came to Delaware to teach in the "down state" schools for colored children. It was not long before she was in Wilmington, in a two teacher school, under a white principal. How she became the principal of that school; how it grew from a two room primary to a two story grammar school; how it was named after Gen O. O. Howard, who came to dedicate it; how it grew to be an accredited high school, with a faculty from the best universities in the country, and graduates figuring on the roster of colleges north, south, east and west. Miss Kruse is retired now on a pension, and a male principal carries on the work which she set so firmly on its feet, but ever and anon a group of teachers or old grads of the school make loving pilgrimage down to 206 East Tenth Street, where she has reigned in her home for so many years, and carry her a tribute for the work she has done. For nearly half a century colored Wilmington meant Howard High School, which gathered under its wings one of the finest little groups of intellectual men and women in the country--all due to the careful culling and pruning of the doughty principal. To have raised the intellectual standard of a community is no small task, but when you add to that, the enduring monument of a splendid school, and the education of thousands of boys and girls, you have an achievement well worth while and a life that has been finely worth living."

According to Dunbar-Nelson, Kruse is remembered for ". . . the intransigent place she made in the souls and hearts and imaginations of the thousands and thousands, who in life loved and hated, feared and revered, shrank from and adored, but never ignored her."

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Not surprisingly, one of the teachers at Howard High School is responsible for much of the information regarding Edwina Kruse. That teacher is the venerable Alice Dunbar-Nelson.

Alice Ruth Moore was born in 1875 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she graduated from Straight College (now Dillard University). She also studied at Cornell University, where she earned a master's degree. She took additional courses at Columbia and at the University of Pennsylvania. During her lifetime, she was a teacher, journalist, speaker/lecturer, administrator, author, poet, and political activist. She was truly a renaissance woman. She was married three times during her life to Paul Laurence Dunbar, noted poet; Henry Arthur Callis, founder of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a graduate of Cornell, a teacher at Howard High School, and later a medical doctor; and Robert Nelson, journalist and Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner.

Dunbar-Nelson wrote for the Washington Tribune a column entitled, "As In A Looking Glass." For the Pittsburgh Courier, she wrote, "From A Woman's Point of View," which later became "Une Femme Dit."

Her books include The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Stories, and Violets and Other Tales; part of her Cornell master's thesis was published in Modern Language Notes in April 1909. Dunbar-Nelson also wrote an unpublished manuscript entitled This Lofty Oak about the life of Edwina B. Kruse, principal at Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware.

Dunbar-Nelson was a woman of strong convictions. She spent a great deal of her time addressing the woes of the world. In fact, she was secretary of the Peace Committee of the American Friends Service Committee. She was dismissed from her position of 18 years as teacher and head of the English department at Howard High School, by principal Ray Wooten, due to her absence to attend the Social Justice Day in Marion, Ohio in September 1920. Mr. Wooten, a new principal, did not approve her absence from class and summarily dismissed her for, "political activity and incompatibility." His decision was upheld by the central administration.

Dunbar-Nelson pursued each of her interests with fervor. That she was an outstanding English teacher is an understatement. Her papers provide evidence of her philosophy of education and also very detailed outlines of the course of study for first-, second-, and third-year English courses at Howard High School. For example, first year, first term students studied the following classics: Irving's Sketch Book, Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, and Kingsley's Old Testament Narratives. For rhetoric, Howard High freshmen studied Scott and Denney's Elementary Composition. Poems freshmen memorized included Lincoln's Gettysburg speech; Wordsworth's Sonnet on Milton; "The Holy Supper" from The Vision of Sir Launfal, "He Prayeth Well" from The Pilgrim's Progress, Up From Slavery, Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Those venerated classical works were followed in subsequent years by The Odyssey, Lady of the Lake, Idylls of the King, Twelfth Night, As you Like It, Julius Caesar, Beowulf (in translation), and Macbeth; then works by Spenser, Chaucer, Milton, and Macaulay. You might question whether there was inclusion of works by people of color in the curriculum. One of the finest legacies of Howard High School is that it succeeded in integrating across the curriculum classical educational objectives and the study and appreciation of works by and about people of color. For example, in The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer (1920), Dunbar-Nelson provides a variety of poetic and prose selections. In the forward by Leslie Pinckney Hill (president of Cheyney), he states: "Colored boys and girls have not been reading about heroic black warriors and statesmen, martyrs and saints, .... They do not ponder enough the pages of the black man's romance written by the black novelist. They have not stored their minds with the poetry that has sung its way out of the black man's sorrow and travail and made a place for itself among the lasting monuments of the world's music." Dunbar-Nelson's Speaker was one of her successes in addressing the issue of a classical education with a multicultural perspective.

In addition to the classic works of literature and works of people of color, Dunbar-Nelson also required her students to be knowledgeable of current affairs and to participate in oratorical contests. Not only did she prepare her students to think critically and to speak in an articulate manner, but she also was one of the teachers who made famous the programs and graduation celebrations for which Howard High was renown. In fact, after Dunbar-Nelson was dismissed from Howard High, she returned to attend a class night (program). Anna Broadnax, Latin teacher and a graduate of Oberlin College, created the program. Dunbar-Nelson writes in her diary, ". . . had to tell Anna the exercises were good. They were awful." That she expended so much time and energy on her plans, her teaching, and the critique of the results is not unusual, as she wrote in her diary that ". . . the highest mission of an ordinary mortal [is the] teaching of English." (Hull, 1984)

For seven of her years at Howard, Dunbar-Nelson also served as director of the summer sessions for colored teachers at Delaware State College (now Delaware State University). It was here that her path crossed with that of Dr. W. C. Jason, another visionary educator in the state. Dr. Jason wrote of Dunbar-Nelson in a poem, "The Three Graces," '. . . One deals in art and literary grace, doth as a princess reign . . . Her name is Alice and her hair is red, for convention not a hoot does she care; but you may bet your life, when all is said, She's got the goods--let those who doubt, beware.' (1915)

Dr. W. C. Jason

Delaware State College was created under the provisions of the second Morrill Act, 1890, and chartered by the state of Delaware in 1891. Its original name was State College for Colored Students, and it opened its doors to students in 1892. A Negro man was selected to serve as the second president of the college, Dr. William C. Jason, Sr., a Methodist preacher of the Delaware Methodist Episcopal Conference. He served as president for 28 years, from 1895 until 1923. Dr. Jason is remembered for his contributions of making Negro youth in Delaware aware of the opportunity for higher education; for hiring Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar-Nelson to conduct the summer school for Negro teachers; his lobbying the state legislature for funding to operate Delaware State College and the summer school; and, finally, in improving the quality of the faculty at the College. Pauline A. Young stated that Dr. Jason was "expected to build academic and industrial agricultural curricula simultaneously, without adequate funds, staff, or physical plant." (Hoffecker, 1973)

In spite of the obstacles, Dr. Jason's goal was to enhance the educational standards of the student body and to recruit extensively in Wilmington where he found students of distinction§namely, Howard High School graduates. He is attributed with providing black schools in Kent and Sussex counties with their first highly qualified teachers. To his credit, in 1950, the William C. Jason Comprehensive High School was opened in Georgetown to fill the educational vacuum for blacks in lower Delaware. The school was funded through a bequest of the late H. Fletcher Brown who stipulated in his will that, "$250,000 of his estate be given to help build a Negro high school somewhere in the lower part of the state." Emily Morris, a 1952 Jason graduate said of the school which closed in 1965, "Everybody at Jason counted: secretaries, custodians, teachers, students. Everybody came to the faculty meetings, students, too--and had input about how the school should be run." Those sentiments are reflective of one of the first teachers at Jason High School, Fred. T. Johnson, a Howard High and Indiana University alumnus who favorably compares Jason Comprehensive High and Howard High. This school, named in honor of Dr. William C. Jason, was a living legacy of his commitment to prepare Negro youth for the future and to stress the values of strong character and morality.

Pauline A. Young

The Dunbar-Nelson tradition in Delaware has many tentacles. Not only did Dunbar-Nelson teach at Howard High School so did three members of her family: Leila Moore Young, her sister; Henry Arthur Callis, her second husband; and Pauline A. Young, her niece, who was first a teacher and then the librarian at Howard High.

Pauline A. Young, born in Medford, Massachusetts, was a modern day version of her famous aunt, Alice Dunbar-Nelson. According to Yancey, Pauline, in her 20s, "embodied all the attributes of the OEroaring twenties'" (an era characterized by short skirts, far-reaching social changes, and gaiety). Following her father's death, Pauline, her brother, sisters, and mother came to Wilmington, Delaware to live with Dunbar- Nelson. Miss Young attended Howard School from kindergarten through graduation from high school. She matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to teach at Howard High School. She completed her graduate degree in library science at Columbia University and became the celebrated librarian at Howard. Prior to teaching at Howard, she worked on the press staff at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. One story indicates that she returned to Wilmington driving a "Model A" Ford.

Miss Young served as teacher and librarian at Howard for 30 years. When she retired, she became a volunteer in the Peace Corps where she was responsible for enhancing the library system in Jamaica. She was a world traveler. She saw Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936, as he made world history in track and field events. Her other foreign trips included Egypt and the former Soviet Union. She not only was a teacher and librarian, but she also was an historian, writer, lecturer, organizer, community leader, humanitarian, and above all, an individualist. When she was a young woman, she took flying lessons. During her long lifetime, she was a very active member of the NAACP both on the local and national levels. She marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. on the famous Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march. She was a prolific writer. Her "Letters to the Editor" were well-known. One of her mottoes was, "Question everything!" She lived that credo in word and deed. In addition to her daily letter writing, she also authored numerous articles. Miss Young wrote, "The Negro in Delaware: Past and Present," a chapter in Reed's history of Delaware, which in 1947 was the first comprehensive history of blacks in Delaware.

Like her aunt, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She was one of the charter members of Gamma Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania. Miss Young was honored by many organizations, but one of her proudest moments was the renaming of the library at Howard as the Pauline A. Young Memorabilia Room. That she catalogued and saved every item relating to black history is known and revered throughout the state. She turned the library at Howard into a veritable sanctuary of black history. At her home, in Arden, she continued to save every bit of paper created about and by black people. Her home became an oasis for writers and scholars who wished primary documents and stories about Black history. Like Edwina Kruse, her home was also a place where former Howardites stopped to chat--a chat that usually lasted for hours.

Miss Young was one of the persons Wilmingtonians knew to contact whenever one needed information. If she could not provide the answer, true to her profession, she knew exactly where to send the researcher. Only once did her memory fail her! She was a contestant on a game show, "Tic-Tac-Dough". Old Mother Hubbard did not come to her mind when asked in the category of nursery rhymes, "Who went to the cupboard to find her old dog a bone?"

One should not infer from that example that Miss Young, the inveterate bachelorette, knew little about children. One of her friends was planning a cross country trip with an infant girl. She was expressing dismay about diapers. Miss Young told her friend not to worry as the pharmacy sold a product called "Chux"--disposable diapers. This incident happened in 1944.

George Anderson Johnson

Illiteracy among school-age Negroes by the time the First World War began was, for all practical purposes, eliminated, according to Livesay. Due to the beneficence of Pierre S. duPont, 86 Negro schools were built between 1922 and 1928, at a personal cost of more than 5 million dollars. Mr. duPont had made the offer to finance schools for Negro youth in 1917. However, he made it conditional upon the enactment of a new school code which would relieve the unjust tax burden on Negroes, equalize teachers' salaries in white and Negro schools, and ensure the new schools, once built, would be properly staffed and maintained. It took four years to overcome the resistance of the downstate legislators to this program. They and their constituents had little interest in Negro education and saw the proposed schools as an added tax burden.

In 1924, George Anderson Johnson was hired as principal of Howard High School. According to Howard graduate and former teacher, Mr. Luther J. Porter, Mr. Wooten left--reportedly after having resigned, and Mr. Johnson was hired following a national search. Mr. Johnson, the son of a slave, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky on April 22, 1889. He moved from Kentucky to Bloomington, Indiana to live with his father. Howard High School, a symbol both of black achievement and racial isolation, was described by Johnson, principal from 1924 until 1959, as a disgraceful firetrap in the early 1920s. His complaints prompted Pierre S. duPont to donate nearly one million dollars to build a new building which was completed at Thirteenth and Poplar Streets, in 1928. Upon the completion of the building, Mr. Johnson diligently selected staff and the school became fully accredited by the Middle States Accreditation Association in 1930. Through the years, Howard High School has become nothing less than a legend for Delaware blacks. There may be as many explanations for the legend of Howard High School as the school has graduates, but one man whose influence is acknowledged by most is former principal George A. Johnson.

To attest to his belief in academic achievement, one need only look at George A. Johnson, a black man who graduated from Indiana University in 1915 and received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1925. Mr. Johnson was the epitome of the learned scholar who is a leader, teacher, and humanitarian. He was concerned with the welfare of the students and teachers, and his philosophy of education was based upon all children receiving a fine education. He understood the intrinsic value of young black people being taught by those of their own race who were themselves achievers. His philosophy of education also included teachers being scholars and actively remaining life-long learners. For example, he learned to speak German in college and remained fluent by conversing with German immigrants who lived near his home in Stanton.

Johnson surrounded himself with intelligent and skilled faculty who had earned degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts School of Fine Arts, Lincoln University, Hunter, Cheyney State Teachers College, Radcliffe, Bowdoin College, Rutgers University, Howard University, Cornell, and Oberlin. Howard High School graduates will never forget Pauline A. Young, Nellie B. Taylor, C. Gwendolyn Redding, Lillian Spencer Mayo, G. Oscar Carrington, Millard Naylor, Arleon Bowser, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Etta J. Woodlin, Natalie H. Cross, George T. Whitten, Pauline Coleman, James A. Gardiner, Sadie T. Jones, Luther J. Porter, Margaret J. Gardiner, George L. Johnson, Yvonne Jensen, and Anna F. Broadnax, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin. Impressive as the list of faculty, the roster of graduates reads like a "Who's Who in Black America." The outstanding faculty at Howard High took an interest in the students and became an integral part of their lives. When Howard High graduates stand to proudly sing their alma mater, the words, "Dear Howard, thy sons and thy daughters are here to give thee great praise as thy due," the alumni recognize the faculty as teachers, parents, and role models who provided for them both a haven and an inspiration. Over the years, enrollment at Howard flourished. In 1930, the staff consisted of 27 teachers and the principal, with 68 students in the class of 1931 and 82 students in the graduating class of 1934. In that year, the total enrollment was 476 pupils in grades seven through 12. By 1947, student enrollment at Howard was 1,079, of which 449 were senior high school students (Young, 1947).

Mr. Johnson, who was known as a strict disciplinarian with a liberal sense of humor, guided the faculty and students in a fatherly manner. Alumni report that although their school facility may not have remained state of the art, the quality of their education was excellent. Students knew they could go anywhere from Howard as their teachers were the best. In fact, George M. Chappell states, ". . . uniquely blessed with the combination of good staff, good facilities, and adequate funds, Howard overcame many of the bonds of discrimination to allow Black students the opportunity of an education equal to or better than their white counterparts."

Johnson's vision was to improve the school facility itself, a goal which was realized with the gift from Pierre S. duPont, to increase the academic achievement of its students, and to foster an environment in which each student could attain his or her potential. Mr. Johnson was regarded as a staunch proponent of athletics. He was revered as an even more forceful champion of academic excellence. He also felt music held a primary role in uplifting people. As a result, Howard High became a center for cultural events for the community. In addition, Johnson supported and fostered the faculty's philosophy that Howard High School was the venue for each student's achieving the status of full citizenship; that the school should contribute to the political and social life of the community by providing educational experiences in democratic living; that those educational experiences could be fostered through activities such as student council, assemblies, athletics, glee clubs, and inter-school gatherings; and, the school should cooperate with such organizations as will help pupils attain full citizenship: the NAACP, YMCA, YWCA, churches, and scouts.

During his tenure as principal, Johnson was known to talk frequently about his college alma mater, Indiana University. In fact, he was responsible for sending many Howard graduates to IU, including his own four children. In 1968, Indiana University conferred upon him its Distinguished Alumni Service Award which reads,

"We honor a devoted alumnus whose professional and personal life has been dedicated to public school education. As teacher and high school principal he inspired young people to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, and act frankly." Every child became as his own; for each he nurtured the parents' hope of success in school, college, and life. Aware that, "slavery is but half abolished, emancipation is but half completed while free men are left without education, he has successfully labored to raise the standards of the secondary schools in which he served to prepare students academically equipped to compete with their peers in their advanced studies. Always ready to assist his alma mater, he has sent many of his best qualified students to her halls of learning, has helped revitalize the Alumni Club in his community, and holds the record in his class of 1915 for the most descendants to have graduated from Indiana University. Knowing that education is a refuge in adversity, he has dedicated his time in retirement to helping society's failures return to group living as worthwhile citizens; and, his standing is high in the minds of all the members of his community. A grateful University recognizes his long service with pride and affection."

During Johnson's 35 years as principal, Howard High was increasingly well-known for its academic excellence, its athletic prowess, and its musical and cultural programs and achievements. It is fitting to share with you a few words of the late George A. Johnson. These quotations are taken from a presentation before the Wilmington Principal's Association of which he had been president, just before his retirement in 1959. He states,

"Last year in Milwaukee I made the assertion that racial integration should proceed with a fair degree of smoothness, due to the fact that groundwork through human relations had been laid over a period of years. Many of my listeners were skeptical and challenged those remarks. Today, 68 percent of our public school pupils attend integrated schools."
"Allow me to give a little background. Twenty years ago Wilmington, like most southern cities, (having legal segregation in its public schools), by custom and tradition followed the regular pattern. Children were born in different hospitals, they later attended separate schools. Their relatives were and still are being buried in separate cemeteries--complete separation of the living, the educable, and dead from the cradle through the schools to the grave."
"Our schools were receiving the inertia of poor relationships. Our Howard High School could not borrow a football field from its own public school system upon which to play other Negro schools. Too, our team was tabooed from passing through a certain section of the town to get to a public park to practice. The school principals of Negro schools were denied the privilege of attending commencement exercises and other activities in other Wilmington Public Schools. . . .Our Howard faculty set forth objectives for our school. Now to implement those objectives! We realized that the universal language was to be music, that the most democratic practice in America was demonstrated through athletics. With this in mind when we sought a music director, we carefully chose the best available. With an improved choir and a splendid marching band, we began to accept invitations to civic activities. Many otherwise intelligent people believe all Negroes are musical, that they can sing. That in its entirety is not true. Today, we cannot begin to accommodate the demands in the city and county for appearances from our music department."
"Simultaneously with our advent in music came the adventure in athletics, and with it the precarious game of football. We started with a scheduled game with a parochial school. This occasioned a very vigorous protest to the newly-appointed superintendent. The basis of complaints were that it was against tradition and would surely lead to a race riot. The game was played! It was largely attended. It was fiercely but cleanly contested and ended in a 7 to 7 tie. The next year because of the demand from the student body of two public schools, games were scheduled with their respective teams. The aforementioned parochial school which was also on the taboo (list) with other public schools used the Howard High School bridge of logic to play other public schools. It was shown that the ruling "public schools of the city should play nothing but other public schools" had been invalidated since Howard was a public school."

Ever the tactful diplomat, Mr. Johnson continued:

"I would say in fairness to our colleagues of Wilmington that our administration and principals are themselves loyal to the best traditions of education. Without their sympathetic and understanding attitudes, the whole advance in the relationship of schools and even the process of racial integration itself would, in my opinion, have been difficult. While no administrators or principals have been crusaders, they have in many instances realized, that with world conditions as they are, any steps toward 'one nation, under God, indivisible . . .' would not only be in harmony with what should be our goal, but would present a better picture of Americans at home and abroad. Ever mindful of the biblical injunction, 'Let him not boast who putteth on the saddle as one who taketh it off,' I should say that 68 percent of Wilmington's children who are exposed to integration are just as happy as the remaining 32 percent who, for reasons of residence and previous condition, have not participated in this new experience."

In conclusion, as one reflects upon the lives of these five exceptional educators, one notices common threads. Each held education in very high esteem. Each exhibited respect, understanding, commitment, and positive regard for people of color. In return, they were heralded by students, faculty, and the black community as individuals who could be trusted to provide a positive and nurturing learning environment. In regard to Howard High School, students, faculty and parents knew the children had a right to attend, but the students were proud to attend Howard. For almost 100 years, Howard High School, with good teachers, good facilities, and adequate budgets produced well-educated students who went to the finest schools and competed with the best. Moreover, during Howard's resplendent years, it was the center of the community, its pupils and their families paid homage to it, and its graduates were honored to be part of it.

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