Washington Podcast

Washington School Special Podcast Main Image of Alumni Washington Podcast Banner with photos

The Mighty Few: Exploring the History and Legacy of Washington Elementary & High School

About this Podcast

This podcast is an oral history of the former Washington Elementary and High School in Greenville, South Carolina, told by alumni who remember the challenges and thrills of an unforgettable time in their lives. You’ll hear from athletic state champions, artists and musicians, community leaders, scientists, and scholars — all who credit the strong community and family-like atmosphere they found at this school with contributing to their love of learning and later passions and successes.

A community school in every sense of the word, while Washington’s building no longer exists, the community lives on in conversations full of determination, laughter, love and heartbreak. Join us, as we revisit the history and legacy of Washington Elementary and High School, and in a broader sense, hear the personal experiences of what it was like to grow up as a black student or teacher in the South, in the 1960s, in America — told by those who lived through it.

Listen + Follow

  • Amazon music icon
  • Google podcast icon
  • iTunes icon
  • Spotify icon
Washington School Podcast Art Episode 1

Introduction to The Mighty Few: Exploring the History and Legacy of Washington Elementary & High School

In this six-part series, you’ll hear from the alumni of a historically-black school in Greenville, South Carolina. The alumni recall the challenges and thrills of an unforgettable time in their lives. Listen to the stories of athletic state champions, artists and musicians, community leaders, scientists, and scholars — all who credit the family-atmosphere and personal attention they found at Washington Elementary and High School with contributing to their love of learning and successes later on in life. Join us for this journey of memories, in unscripted conversations that are at times heartwarming, funny, and heartbreaking as we revisit the history and legacy of Washington School, and in a broader sense, personal experiences of what it was like growing up as a black student in the South, in the 1960s, in America — told by those who lived through those times. 

Narrator: Frances Brown Bishop 

Series Executive Producer: Brendan Blowers

Series Producer (Sound Engineer): Nathan Robinson

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

Pictured: Washington High School Industrial Arts Club on campus, circa 1967.

Washington School Podcast Art Episode 2

Remembering Washington: Our Talented Faculty

Washington Elementary and High School attracted teachers who didn’t just present facts and figures, they inspired students to have a life-long love of learning.  In the podcast, “Our Talented Faculty”, hear a conversation between a former teacher and one of his students.

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: Rev. James Johnson, Horace Butler

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

Pictured: High School faculty, circa 1965.

Washington School Podcast Art Episode 3

Remembering Washington: Workforce Development

Washington High School offered valuable technical courses to its high school students for the purpose of workforce development. Students took classes such as drafting, welding, industrial arts, and auto mechanics in addition to college-prep courses and labs in chemistry and physics. Many students pursued subjects of interest beyond the core requirements — as Washington’s population grew, so did opportunities for students to acquire valuable career skills. 

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: Matthew Irby, Mike Robinson

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

Pictured: Shop class, circa 1962.

Washington School Podcast Art, Episode 4

Remembering Washington: Athletic Achievement

We can’t talk about the legacy of Washington Elementary and High School without mentioning championships and other athletic achievements. Whether playing on a field or a court — the Falcons were up for any challenge and often defeated much larger schools with more established, better funded programs. We’re joined now by a few men who remember the pride and persistence required to be an athlete at Washington…

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: David Lee Beaty, Arthur Butler, Frank Moultrie

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

Pictured: The Falcons football team, circa 1965.

Washington School Podcast Art, Episode 5

Remembering Washington: The Visual & Performing Arts

Washington Elementary and High School visual and performing arts programs were as successful as the athletics. The school quickly earned a great reputation for its music and arts programs during the 1960s. Listen now, as three former students recall what it was like to pursue arts and music at Washington.

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: Ronald (Rawn) Harbor, Veronica Ferguson Johnson, Helen Scott Irby

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

Pictured: The majorettes, circa 1965.

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.

Washington School Podcast Art, Episode 7

Remembering Washington: Purpose and Legacy

The Washington Elementary and High School alumni still gather annually to stay in touch and pass their stories down to a new generation of kids, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. In this final episode, we’ve invited a few alumni and community leaders to share what it means to leave a legacy.

There is a collective and profound sense of pride and appreciation for the former administrators, teachers, and students who made this school unique. The nuggets of wisdom, technical skills, and inspiration that Washington instilled in so many in such a short time provides many reasons to celebrate. The lessons learned at Washington Elementary and High School will never be forgotten.

Introduction: Frances Brown Bishop

Featured Guests: Addy Matney, David Mitchell, Rosa Fleming Byrd, Charles Gardner, James Avery

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

Pictured: Washington High School library, circa 1967.

Sponsors

This podcast is sponsored by McMillan Pazdan Smith in partnership with Greenville Transit Authority and the Washington Alumni Association.