Historic schoolhouse gets a facelift

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - One-room school houses were common in the Ozarks in the mid-1900s. But Lincoln School was different from others.

From 1920 until 1954, if black children wanted to go to school in West Plains, Lincoln School was the only place they could go. If they wanted to go to high school, they’d have to go to Springfield or to another town that had a high school for black students.

Today, a local group called Young Vision, along with city workers and other volunteers, gave Lincoln School a fresh coat of paint.

76-year old Crockett Oaks attended Lincoln School up until 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that schools no longer could be segregated.

“We appreciate these volunteers coming out here and help put a facelift on this building, said Oaks. “It’s been here a long time, and it’s got a lot of memories.”

John Good attended West Plains high school when segregation ended. He said growing up in the rural Ozarks, he didn’t understand the concept of racism until he traveled to other parts of the country.

“I knew we were different, but I didn’ know, it’s like the blondes or the redheads, they were different, short people tall people, it just never was an issue when I was in school.,” said Good. “I never heard any comments about it, there may have been, but I never heard them.”

Today, Lincoln School serves as the home of the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter. AA members paid for all of the paint for the project. There’s talk of turning the school into a museum someday.

Oaks likes that idea. “People that come that used to live here, that’s the first thing they usually mention, ‘the old school, it’s still standing. It looks good.’ Well. we’d like to continue that if we can.”

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