Black History Month Spotlight – Dunbar High School

dunbarimage2The new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

After Little Rock High School (now Central High School) was completed in 1927, the building of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was completed in 1929.  Money came from the Rosenwald Fund, founded by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, and from local black residents.  Local blacks insisted on adding college preparatory classes to the vocational-industrial ones that were offered in black schools at the time. The building, modeled after the white high school, housed grades seven through twelve plus a junior college.  Black students came from all over Arkansas to take advantage of its educational opportunities.

When Horace Mann High School opened as a segregated school in 1956, Dunbar became a junior high school. A Dunbar-Mann Alumni Association, whose members live throughout the country, still helps to support both schools.  In the 1930s, Charlotte Andrews Stephens, the first black public school teacher in Little Rock, was on the faculty at Dunbar, completing seventy years of teaching with the district.  In the 1940s, Sue Cowan Williams, English Department chair, lost her job when she sued the Little Rock School District for equal pay for black and white teachers.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.