Celebrating Black History Month in Decatur

Decatur’s Herring Street School

The first school for African Americans in Decatur was a small parochial school started by a Presbyterian minister. In 1902, the first public school for African-Americans opened. That school relocated in 1913 and became known as Herring Street School.  With support from the community, the school expanded and was rebuilt as Beacon Elementary School and Trinity High School in 1956 and 1957. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools were unconstitutional, it would be 18 years before Decatur’s public schools were completely integrated.  Despite the scarcity of resources available to them teacher formed a Teacher’s Club at Herring Street School to provide college tuition scholarships for underprivileged students. Teachers and school administrators were widely respected throughout the Beacon community, and school principals were admired civic leaders.

Key Historical Educators:

Charles M. Clayton, principal of Herring Street School 1933-1953 Sara T. Blackmon, first principal of Beacon Elementary Albert J. Martin, appointed principal of Herring Street School in 1953 and went on to serve as Trinity High School’s only principal from its opening in 1956 to its closure in 1967.

Note: Ebster Recreation Center, City Schools of Decatur Administrative Building and the Police Department sit on the site of the historical schools. The original brick wall remains along Electric Ave and the original entrance to the school remains on site.

Leave a Reply