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The Edna Colored School or more recently know as George Washington Carver remains an integral part of Jackson County, Texas history. Acting as an educational institution for African Americans in Edna, Texas from the late 1800s until the end of segregation in 1966. Even after integration, the school building continued to serve Jackson County as both an elementary school and community center. For many members of Jackson County, the school served as not only a place of learning but holds fond memories of Carver Tiger tradition.

1942 Colored School

Water, Wood, Rectangle, Architecture

George Washington Carver (Carver Elementary School)

Shade, Land lot, Wood, Grass

1963 Carver Tigers Football Team

Shirt, Active shorts, Player, Shorts

1963 Carver Tigers Cheerleading Team

Adaptation, Crew, Vintage clothing, Team

1963 Carver Tiger Twirlers

Headgear, Shorts, Crew, Fun

Graduating Class of 1958

Sleeve, Headgear, Font, Hat

George Washington Carver School, previously known as Edna Colored School, was in operation from the 1880s until 1966 in Edna, Texas. With its beginnings not far after the end of the Civil War, the school provided education for elementary, junior high, and high school African American students in the Edna area with the first official documented graduating class in 1912.Being the only four-year high school for African American students for around 70 miles stretching between Victoria and Wharton. The Edna Colored School served as the main African American school for all of Jackson County and African American students would travel by bus from Edna, Ganado, Cordele, Morales, and the Industrial school district.

Racial biases most likely directly affected those who attended and taught at the Edna Colored School, especially in the early years. Racial biases and oppression in America date back to its early beginnings. With recorded racial and social injustices towards African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and any group that was not deemed as “white”. Racial unrest and prejudice led to the separation of races and more specifically separation of schools. Due to high tensions in the South after the Civil War and chaos of Reconstruction there was not much support for freed slaves. White southerners still held the mentality of slavery and continued to treat African Americans poorly. Many state laws in Texas and many other southern states were passed to undermine the laws against racial injustice at the federal level, which made equality and overall life difficult for African Americans. Before the creation of non-white public schools and Freedman’s Bureau schools, education for African Americans was almost non-existent in the south. Most southern slave holders did not want their slaves to have any form of education, and this led to many slaves not having the ability to read or write. After the abolition of slavery schooling was unreliable for African Americans in the South for many years.

African Americans were not the only racially divided groups in Jackson County. The Edna Colored school was only one of the three different racially divided schools in Edna, Texas. The others being the several all-white campuses and the Edna Mexican School which was a small one room schoolhouse. Children attended the Edna Mexican school from first to fourth grade, and if they chose to continue their education, they would begin attending the all-white school. Edna used a three-race school system until 1966, which was around 12 years after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling of the Brown vs. Board of Education to end segregation in schools (Gibbs, 2018). In the 1966-1967 school year Edna High School previously allowing only all white students and George Washington Carver had finally integrated and the first African American students were recorded as part of the Edna High School graduating class.

After segregation had ended, the school was converted into an elementary school which served the community until May 2008. Carver Elementary school accommodated students from prekindergarten to second grade. It was one of two elementary schools after integration, the other being Stephan F. Austin Elementary school, which housed students from third to fifth grade. Stephen F. Austin Elementary was one of the previous all-white elementary schools in Edna until integration in 1966. Originally, the deed of Stephen F. Austin stated that it was meant for only white students, further proving the prejudice in the South and in other small towns like Edna. In October of 2008, the former African American school was purchased by a non-profit organization called the George Washing Carver Community Center and was converted into a community center for Edna. The organization wanted to create a safe environment for all races and a place for the community to gather.

The Edna Colored School has had several locations throughout Edna. The first is thought to be located near the current Police station on the east side of Dry Creek (Gibbs, 2018). However, lack of documentation during the early years of the school makes it hard for historians to pinpoint an exact location. The second location of the school was on Washington and Harris streets. The property was a gift presented to the Edna school district in 1942 and was utilized until 1953. In 1954 the school moved to its next location and gained the name George Washington Carver School. The George Washington Carver School campus was Edna Colored School’s final location on Martin Luther King Street, and several of the buildings of the previous location on Washington and Harris were brought to the site. This new location was a part of a predominantly African American neighborhood making the school more accessible to its students. The 12.5 acres for George Washington Carver on Martin Luther King street were presented by E.T. and Maymie White-Rose who were influential white landowners in the community and allowed for the students to flourish there until 1966.

The George Washington Carver school and other Edna Colored School locations carry a large piece of history for Jackson County. Holding many memories for members of the community with its over hundred-year-old history. Carver carried many traditions just like any other school. The Carver Tigers had a well-known sports team and annual homecoming parade. Crowning an annual “Miss Carver” on homecoming week, having a pep rallies and spirit days. With the football team reaching the state semi-finals and the girls’ track team winning titles at state. It also had a cheerleading team, twirl team, and band among other various groups. Many members of the community that attended the former all Black school remember the school as “spirited” and “close-nit” (Victoria advocate).

In the September 1st, 1949 issue of the Edna Weakly Herald Newspaper, George Washington Carver was expected to have 350 students in the upcoming 1949-1950 school year. Also, recorded within the same issue of the Weakly Herald it stated that all of the staff members at the time of the article had college degrees. The staff averaged around 15 adults at a time, one of which being the principal. The earliest recorded members of staff I could locate were from 1938 being listed as Lila M. Lamkin, W.M. Lamkin, Leonia Brown, Ethel Weathers, and Norma Sayles. Many of the teachers at the school seemed to be former students that continued their legacy and gave back to the Edna Colored School.

Unfortunately, the school was destroyed by fire on March 13, 2014 and met its untimely end. However, the historical marker remains near the rubble of what was once the location of the Edna Colored School. The gym is the only part of the school that remains after the tragic fire. With both good memories and bad the school served as a welcoming place for African American students to learn and prosper even during times of racial injustice. Many students went on to live fulfilling lives even with such great obstacles, and several students chose to continue their education becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers. Although some may not agree the location of the building was not what was important. Having moved so many different times the Edna Colored School was not a specific place but a group of people and system of strength, hard work, and environment that allowed students to learn. 

Cranford, E.O. “Tigers to Try Trinity; Win Bi-District 22-12.” The Edna Herald (Edna, Tx), Dec. 5, 1963.  

Hayes, B. Bascom. “County-Wide Negro School.”  Edna Weekly Herald (Edna, Tx), Sep. 1, 1949.  

Ortolon, Roy C. Edna Schools:1904-2013. Texana Arts Council, 2013.

Rodriguez, Erica. “Saving Black History: Organizers Want to Preserve Former School in Edna.” Victoria Advocate , January 17, 2010.

Gibbs, Carol S. “Edna Schools”, April 25, 2018.

Staples, H.K. “Edna Colored High School Closing Exercises.” Edna Weekly Herald (Edna, Tx), May 27, 1948. 

Taylor, Ira T. The Cavalcade of Jackson County. 3rd edition. Waco, Tx: Nortex Press, 2008. 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Ortolon, Roy C. Edna Schools:1904-2013. Texana Arts Council, 2013.

Gibbs, Carol S. Edna Schools, April 25, 2018.

Cranford, E.O. “Tigers to Try Trinity; Win Bi-District 22-12.” The Edna Herald (Edna, Tx), Dec. 5, 1963.

Evans, Chester. “Cheerleaders” The Edna Herald (Edna, Tex.), October 17, 1963.

Evans, Chester. “These High Steppers” The Edna Herald (Edna, Tex.), October 17, 1963.

Rodriguez, Erica. “Saving Black History: Organizers Want to Preserve Former School in Edna.” Victoria Advocate, January 17, 2010.