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Remembering Kane School - black children, now adults, recall segregated education

Kane School was remembered as part of Black History Month on Saturday February 16th at a program at the Historical & Genealogical Society on North Washington Street in Clinton.

Howard Dillard, one of the local residents who attended Kane School, assisted in preparing a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the school. Dillard, a Clinton City councilman, shared his recollections of attending not just Kane School but other African American schools in the region. Other students attending Kane School spoke of discipline - miscreants were put under the teacher's desk. There were dances and picnics on the grounds. There were field trips to the Lake where a segregated picnic area became a summer draw for students.

1916 - Education of Black Students

  • Segregation: No black children were allowed to attend school with white children.
  • 1880 census - one African American teacher, 28 year old Myra Ashley had ten students.
  • Students were schooled in a hall on lower Blair Street
  • No high school for black students in Hickman County
  • High school students had to commute to Shelby County, or Fulton County or other counties.
  • The school in Shelby County was a boarding school. At least one local man attended the boarding school almost 300 miles from home.

In 1917, a tornado swept through the region, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

The whites only high school was among the buildings destroyed.The bricks from that building became the building blocks of Kane School. By 1919, with donated books and dedicated teachers, the school opened for elementary students.

High school students rode one school bus to Hickman to attend Riverview High School. It was an interesting ride.

Male students at Riverview played basketball. Some were very good. Dillard recalls the team beating one highly rated Kentucky team that boasted players that would go on to play professional ball.

In 1966, Kane School closed as integration sent its children to Hickman County Schools. The building served for a time as New Obion Missionary Baptist Church.

One hundred years later, Kane School sits quiet and abandoned. The gym is empty and the doors hang open. Community leaders have from time to time tried to find a purpose for the building, but money for rehabilitation is elusive.


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