~Kicha~

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Posted on 07/16/2015


Photo taken on August  1, 1911



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African Americans
Industrial Institute
Avery Normal Inst
Charleston Indus Inst.


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Charleston Industrial Institute

Charleston Industrial Institute
Cabinet card of a large group of African Americans gathered to witness the placing of the corner stone for the Industrial Institute being built. Arthur L. MacBeth, Photographer

In 1894, Reverend John L. Dart, a graduate of the Avery Normal Institute and Atlanta University opened the Charleston Industrial Institute (later known as the Charleston Colored Industrial School and eventually Burke Industrial School in 1921) on the corner of Bogard and Kracke Streets in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The original school building, Dart Hall, accommodated approximately 150 male and female students. As the student population grew, Reverend Dart organized the construction of additional buildings on the small campus. Dart envisioned the mission of this long overdue free public school as an institution of vocational and moral education.

As his original prospectus read: "In view of the startling fact that there are more than 5,000 colored children in Charleston without free public school advantages, and knowing that the many boys and girls who are now growing up in ignorance, idleness and crime must become, in future, a large criminal and dependent class, a number of the leading and progressive colored men of this city undertook the work of establishing a school for colored children, where they could be taught not only reading and writing, but the lessons of morals, temperance, sewing, cooking, nursing, housework, carpentering, etc."

Based on this prospectus, the Charleston Colored Industrial School sought to educate African American students with technical skills that would help them secure gainful employment in the local economy. The intended curriculum mirrored the vocational or industrial structure encouraged by many white leaders that sought to shape black educational policy during the post-war period and into the early 20th century.

Reverend Dart initially gained funding for Charleston Industrial School through local private donors and northern philanthropists. For years, he regularly petitioned the city of Charleston to assume responsibilities for the school. The city government finally responded in 1911 by constructing a new building at the school’s present location at the corner of Fishburne and President Streets. Once the Charleston Industrial School operated as a public school, city officials enforced an ordinance that only white teachers could be employed to teach in coveted city school positions. Even though the industrial school was a segregated black school, African American teachers from Charleston had to find work in private institutions, or in rural African American public schools outside of the city. In 1919, local activists successfully petitioned to overturn the ordinance, and only black teachers could join the faculty of black public schools in Charleston, until the city desegregated its public school system in the 1960s. In 1921, the school district changed the name of the Charleston Colored Industrial School to Burke Industrial School, in memory of the death of city board member James E. Burke.

Charleston Public County Library and Baker, R. Scott. "Paradoxes of Desegregation: African American Struggles for Educational Equity in Charleston, South Carolina, 1926-1972". Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2006.

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