Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
Texarkana, Texas 1916-1968

Submitted by: George A. Woolridge
Developed by:Bert Williams

1916 Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

 The first school for Negro children in Texarkana was the school now known as Dunbar. It was first known as Central.

As the American custom of any permanent settlement, after a sufficient number of settlers clustered together, the next question in the minds of the people is the establishment of a public school.

Around 1880, the Negro population in Texarkana, Texas was centered around Oak and Elm Streets. There was an idea to establish a school in that vicinity. Thus a school was organized in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at Fourth and Elm Streets with Professor Dilliard as principal. Mrs. Dilliard was the assistant.

Through transit, the population grew so fast that school authorities decided that it would be necessary to seek a permanent site for the location of the school.

The site on 7th and Elm Streets was purchased by school authorities and a two room school facing Sixth Street was built with Professor Williams as principal. During his tenue of office, the school received the name of Central because of its central location. Along with Professor Williams, there were a number of teachers who taught with him whose names no longer can be recalled. It is understood that another principal succeeded Professor Williams; however because there were no records left, his name is unknown.

Finally a young man, Professor Spencer, full of engergy and enthusiasm came from South Carolina. Under his leadership, the school took on a new life, so much so, that a two story frame building containing four rooms was built facing Sixth Street, between Elm and the K.C.S. tracks.

Under the leadership of Professor Spencer, the following teachers taught: Miss. Brown, who became Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Hattie Dawson and Mrs. Campbell. Later Miss. Fannie Lee of Little Rock, Arkansas replaced Mrs. Campbell. Then came Reverend and Mrs. A.M. Plant.

Professor Spencer taught for a number of years, but was replaced by Professor W. T. Daniels for one year.

The following teachers taught during Professor Spencer's second tenue: Mrs. Mary Spencer, Mrs. Hattie Dawson, Miss. Fannie Lee, Miss. R. Webb and Miss. Eva Webb.

Professor Spencer Served until his health failed. After Professor Spencer's tenue came Professor M.C. McCowan, under whose tenue, the central brick building was built facing Seventh Street. Those who taught under Professor McCowan were: Mrs. Lula Long, Mrs. Jessie Johnson, Professor Jettie Weaver, Mrs. Cora Jones, Miss. Susie Fridia and others.

Then in 1916, there came to Texarkana, Texas an educational giant, Professor B.A. Jackson, who had received his basic training from the public schools of Corsiana, Texas. He was a graduate of Fisk University and had recently graduated from Harvard University Law School. Professor Jackson had served as Professor of Mathematics at Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, but resigned that position to accept the principalship of Dunbar. He towered above all others as a school builder. It was he who proposed the changing of the school's name from Central, which was in conflict with the white school of this vicinity, to Dunbar. This change was made around 1916.


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