Dr. Tom Crosby talks about the history of Black schools in the county
Dr. Allan Charles submitted this recap of the quarterly meeting of the Union County Historical Society, which met at the Union County Museum on September 25. Dr. Tom Crosby was the guest speaker for the meeting, speaking on education for Black people in the county. Dr. Charles writes:
"Dr. Crosby is an alumnus of Sims High School, class of 1959, and later came back to teach at that school for three years. He graduated from Allen University in Columbia and went on to receive his Ph.D. in biology from Penn State University. He is professor emeritus from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Illustrating his talk with a power-point presentation of slides of various people and schools, Crosby, who is conducting an oral history project on Black education in the entire state of South Carolina, focused his discussion on his home county of Union, beginning with the first post-Reconstruction Black school in the city of Union, the Howard School, which was on the east side of Goss Avenue (later Lakeside Drive). Probably the last principal of the school was the almost-legendary Professor A.A. Sims, who eventually had three more schools named after him.
The first school to be named after him was (old) Sims High School on what later became Union Boulevard. The building is gone, but there are pictures in the museum, and there are historical markers on the site. Professor Sims served as principal (and probably also a teacher) of a school that was already named for him, an honor that very few people receive.
Dr. Crosby dwelled on the Rosenwald Schools Project, one funded by a Northern, Jewish philanthropist. Starting around World War I and continuing into the 1930s, Rosenwald donated money to help build Black schools in the South. Local Blacks would contribute labor and some materials, and Rosenwald would do the rest. Eventually some eighteen Rosenwald schools were built, not counting the fact that he gave a substantial sum to the construction of the first Sims High School. The first three Rosenwald schools in the county were Mount Calvary, New Hope, and Nazareth.
The appreciative audience asked many questions both during and after Dr. Crosby’s presentation.