African-Americans (HM1528)

Location: Newkirk, OK 74647 Kay County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 52.874', W 97° 3.21'

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From the beginning, African-Americans settled and lived in Newkirk — although this was not true in most of the towns in Kay County. They settled primarily on the east side of town, building their own community which included churches, restaurants, schools and stores. The Mount Olive Baptist Church was organized in 1894 with Albert Jones as minister. At a later date the African Methodist Episcopal Church was also organized.

The first Black school was opened in the French Restaurant with a teacher named Work in September 1894. In 1897, the school had fifteen students enrolled. These African-American children represented five percent of the school age children in Newkirk at that time.

When the new stone public school building opened in February, 1897, the Black children with their parents tried to enter the school. When they were informed that a separate school had been prepared for them on the west side of the public square, a riot very nearly ensued. Although they were finally persuaded to leave, they all refused to attend school that day. The very next week the territorial government passed a bill requiring separate schools for white and Black children. In 1899 the school board voted to build a separate school for[?] Black students. William Morgan built the school, and it was completed by October 1899. It was named the Nathaniel Dett school, and Porter W. Smith was elected its director.

Black students wishing to attend school beyond the eighth grade were bussed to Attucks High School in Ponca City. This continued until the end of segregation in 1956 when the school was closed and all the students integrated. Racial segregation in the Newkirk schools ended with the 1955-56 school year.

At this time the average daily attendance at Nathaniel Dett School was twenty-two students. It served grades one through six. Unlike many areas of the South, integration hardly caused a ripple in Newkirk. Superintendent Nantz reported that integration of Negro students in the city schools had been accepted without any incident of any nature. One indication of their acceptance was shown by the selection of three African-American students as members of the Student Council.
HM NumberHM1528
Placed ByModern Woodmen of America
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 7th, 2014 at 1:23pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)14S E 673470 N 4083466
Decimal Degrees36.88123333, -97.05350000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 52.874', W 97° 3.21'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 52' 52.44" N, 97° 3' 12.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)580
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 108 S Main St, Newkirk OK 74647, US
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