|Douglass School on High Avenue. As is discussed in Douglass Schools in the Warehouse District, both deplorable conditions and location eventually prompted - actually, forced - a move from the Douglass School at California and Walnut, and the logical location was the site of Lowell School on High Avenue between Northeast 5th & 6th Streets -- a school was already there which could be expanded and black population surrounded the school, Deep Deuce being only a few blocks to the west.
Credit Jim Edwards, Hal Ottaway & Mitchell Oliphant, Vanished Splendor III (Abalache Book Shop Publishing 1985)
But, the move didn't come easy. For reasons I don't know, from Douglass' 1891 origins in downtown Oklahoma City to the school's move to the warehouse district and even in the 1930s to the new location, black schools fell into a peculiar category. A September 15, 1903, Daily Oklahoman article said "Though perhaps not generally known, the property and building used for the colored schools is under the law owned by the county. The only participation the city board of education has in the affairs of the colored schools is to employ the teachers."
Since the all-white Lowell School was under city auspices but would become all-black were Douglass to move to that location (and become owned by the county), white patrons wanted a new school should that move occur and, of course, funding for all proposals would need to be found. And, there was the matter of possible sale of the California Douglass School property, valuable for commercial purposes in the warehouse district. The property was conveyed to the county by the federal government (troops were located there during and after the Land Run days) with an apparent requirement that the property be used for school purposes). Were that use to change, Congressional approval was apparently required. It was a political and practical mess.
The city school board's request that the county fund $300,000 for the new school was approved by the county only for the county to renig and cut the number to $100,000. Have a look at the following December 29, 1931, article:
On the March 7, 1932, Daily Oklahoman editorial page, Edith Johnson wrote the following:
|Quite a lot more could and should be said, but this piece already exceeds being a "mini-article," so I'll stop. But, for readers who want more, click here for 12 other Oklahoman articles which I've assembled. The bottom line is that the new Douglass did get done. Temporary quarters while the new school got built around Lowell School began in September 1932 with the final building being ready in 1934. I'll end with a few images showing the new school in the 1940s, all from the OHS Research Center, Star Archives.
Zelia Breaux, President of the Oklahoma State Negro Teachers Association,
addressing its assembly on February 5, 1946, in the Douglass auditorium
Douglass Drum Corps directed by Zelia Breaux
School cast of The Pirates of Penzance directed by Zelia Breaux
The school was expanded over the years and remained Douglass High School until the new Douglass was constructed in 1954 on Eastern Avenue, now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That happening, this building became Moon Junior High. Today, the property has been vacant for many years, but it's still there for you to see. Here's a photo I took in 2008:
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