1931 - 1955
After Missouri emancipated the state’s enslaved people on January 11, 1865, many of Greene County’s Black residents settled in Springfield. The largest neighborhood was near modern-day Drury University and the Ozarks Technical Community College.
To serve the growing African American population, a Freedmen’s School opened in Springfield. The school was held in the “upper part of the building on the [D.D.] Berry farm, formerly used as a military hospital.” It operated for two years with an estimated 160 students attending. Adults who worked during the week could attend the Freedmen’s Sunday School.
In 1867, Springfield inaugurated a segregated public-school system. The earliest Black school was in a “Black Methodist Church” at the southwest corner of Benton Avenue and Water Street. From 1872 to 1954, the Springfield Board of Education built four schools to educate the city’s Black students.
The most well-known of these school is the second Lincoln School. Funded in part by an $8,000 grant from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, it opened in 1931 with 15 rooms, including a library and a gymnasium. After the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. the Board of Education ruled that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional, Black students entering the 1954-1955 school year were given their choice to attend either a formerly white school in their neighborhood or continue to attend Lincoln School. Lincoln High School’s 1955 senior class was the school’s final group of graduates.
This marching bass drum was used by the Lincoln Marching band. The school’s wildcat mascot and lettering are hand-painted on both drumheads. The drumheads also feature signatures.
Date: 1931 - 1955
Subject: African Americans; Education; Music
Contributing Institution: History Museum on the Square
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Photographer: Ben Divin