The Keiser School was one of several built, furnished, and maintained primarily by Lee Wilson & Company. Before 1920, most American high schools emphasized college prepartory courses, including Latin, modern foreign languages, the sciences, English, and history. After 1920, however, that philosophy began to change as schools added instruction in more "practical" skills, including business and homemaking classes.
The Wilson School building
Upon his death, Lee Wilson bequeathed property worth over a quarter of a million dollars to the Wilson schools. Wilson believed strongly in a the value of education and supported local schools and colleges. The facilities and equipment were among the best in the Delta.
A separate school for African Americans
The structure to right is the old "Negro School." The building to the left is the Superintendent's home. Jim Crow laws required separate facilities for African-American children. While the Supreme Court allowed separate education for blacks and whites, it mandated that they be "equal" educations in every way. In practice, state governments throughout the South cultivated white students and ignored African-American children. Black schools were often overcrowded, almost universally substandard, lacking in supplies, led by poor teachers teaching in inadequate buildings. While it certainly was not of the same quality as the white school in Wilson, the "Negro" school provided Wilson blacks with a far better education than that of most of the Delta's white population.
Wilson High School
Students descend the main staircase at the Wilson School. The building housed classrooms for grades one through twelve. R. E. L. Wilson's potrait hangs in the background. Wilson High was one of the first integrated high schools in Arkansas. R.E.L. Wilson, III, decided to integrate schools in southern Mississippi County at a time when much of the white South was violently opposed to the Civil Rights Movement.
Yesterday's word processing
Wilson High School students learn to type on Remington typewriters. R. E. L. Wilson believed business education courses would train young adults to make the most of their lives. The machine in the foreground is a mimeograph, an instrument for making copies.
Wilson High School
Students participate in a home economics course at Wilson High School.
Boarding the bus for home
While educational technology has expanded rapidly in the last half-century, the school bus seems a timeless icon.
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