Washington School Podcast Art, Episode 6

Remembering Washington: A Challenging Transition

Washington Elementary and High School was a special place, so why is this school no longer around? To answer that question, let’s go back even further to the supreme court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. The results of that hearing declared segregation unconstitutional. Despite the law, Greenville County Schools — like many school districts across the South, tried to continue accommodating its growing black student population by increasing the size and facilities of its all-black schools. Washington, after all, had started in response to the overcrowding of other area all-black schools, like Sterling.  

And, while we’ve already demonstrated how Washington thrived as a community school in its brief existence — when the federal government finally forced the desegregation of public schools in January 1970, Washington Elementary and High School, along with several other black schools in Greenville County (12,000 students and 550 teachers in all) suddenly found themselves being bussed to a new location and very different environment. Many of Washington’s students were jarred by the suddenness of entering the newly desegregated Wade Hampton High in Greenville in the middle of a school year. 
 
It was a challenging transition. Here’s a few former students who remember details from that difficult and traumatic time.

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: Osbornetta Scott, Susie A. Burton

Recorded at Bramble Jam Studios in Greenville, South Carolina, 2022.

Pictured: Washington School bus drivers, circa 1965.