Dunbar Hallway

dunbarDunbar Elementary School opened for classes February 3, 1941, as a new school in Marshall serving African-American students in grades 1-7. The school was located at 1400 Johnson Street on what is now the Marshall ISD DAEP Center and Marshall High School baseball field and included 14 classrooms and an auditorium.

On Thursday, January 30, 1941, exactly one year to the day of the official groundbreaking for the school, Mr. E.N. Dennard, Marshall City Schools Superintendent, gave the order for students and faculty to move into the new building. The task of moving from Hillside Elementary School to Dunbar was done on Friday, January 31, 1941, without dismissing school for a single day thanks to the work of teachers, students and Mr. Earl Rhodes, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds.

Classes began in the new school the following Monday. Professor J.H. Moore served as the school’s principal until his retirement following the 1947-48 school year. After his retirement, Mr. Travis Downs was named principal after working as a teacher under Professor Moore in Marshall for 12 years.

On Sunday, January 30, 1949, a fire completely destroyed all 14 classrooms with only the auditorium left standing. The remaining structure was divided into four classrooms for seventh and eighth grades, and grades one through six were moved to the Sunday School department at Galilee Baptist Church. The task of rebuilding the school began in March of 1949 and was completed in August of 1949, with an additional two classrooms and a kitchen added to the building.

Under the administration of Superintendent V.H. Hackney, the testing program was instituted, the curriculum was extended to include a teacher for exceptional children, and a special music teacher for all grades was added. Mr. Downs served as principal at Dunbar from 1948 until 1970, when the school closed during integration and faculty and students were transferred to David Crockett Elementary.

dunbarPaul Laurence Dunbar
Dunbar Elementary School was in honor of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), who was the first American Negro poet to express in distinguished poetry the characteristics and feelings of the Negroes. He died, however, before his unusual talents were fully developed.

His refined and delicate art is best represented by his dialect poems; these show his sympathy and understanding of the Negroes. His sense of humor, too, found expression in the simple, warm language which he used.

Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, to parents who had both been slaves. He was given a high school education and wished to study law, but had no money. For a time he was on the staff of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

His works include the collections of poems, Oak and Ivy, Lyrics of Lowly Life, Candle-Lightin’ Time, Li’l Gal, and Joggin’ Erlong. He also wrote a volume of short stories, Folks from Dixie, and a novel, The Uncalled.
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