Tarant County (TX) first Black high school
Tarrant County’s first public high school for black students opened in 1882. The “Colored High School” was located at several sites and was named I.M. Terrell in 1921 before the building at 1411 Terrell Circle opened in 1938. Isaiah Milligan Terrell was one of Fort Worth’s first black teachers and principals.
The school educated generations of African-American teens from Fort Worth and surrounding communities; including Arlington, Mosier Valley and the Tarrant County portion of Grand Prairie.
For decades, Jim Crow laws limited professional opportunities for even the most talented black people, so the best and the brightest often became teachers. Some I.M. Terrell teachers studied at the country’s finest universities, including Columbia and Stanford.
They tried to teach the graces by example. During the 1940s, every female teacher wore a business suit or a floor-length dress. Every male teacher wore a starched white shirt and tie. The men always opened doors for their female colleagues and students, and the teachers always spoke to one another with formality and deference.
I.M. Terrell High closed when Fort Worth schools desegregated in 1973. The building now houses an elementary school and an alumni center.
“Wherever you go, you always run into somebody who went to I.M. Terrell,” said Sarah Walker, a 1956 graduate.
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