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Monday, June 4, 2007

Bragging Rights About The Largest Black High School in the Tri-Cities

Douglass High School, Kingsport AT RIGHT

Langston High School, Johnson City AT RIGHT

There's been some discussion in recent months about which school could lay claim to have been the largest African-American High School in the Tri-Cities. Most people schooled in the 40's, 50's and 60's, all agree the competition was only between two schools, Langston High School, Johnson City,at right.. and Douglass High School, Kingsport in the top picture.

After an exhaustive search of the records at the Johnson City Public Library, Gail, the reference clerk located a book about Langston from 1965, the last year it was a school. That turned out to be the best source for the comparison, because it is physical evidence.. Even though Douglass-Kingsport closed the next year, its last published annual was also in 1965, another piece of physical evidence. From that, we simply did head counts for both schools.

By 1965 and through integration, Langston High School had already sent its elementary students, grades one through six, to other elementary schools in the Johnson City School System, housing only students from 7th grade through 12th grade. In 1965, Douglass still had most of its elementary students still in its building, although some, anticipating intergration, had already started going to other elementary schools in Kingsport, most notedly George Washington Elementary.

To be fair to Langston and to make an accurate comparison between the two schools, the Douglass Elementary School numbers are not used in determining the final student count. I simply counted all the 7th through 12th students who had pictures in the 65 Douglass annual, and Gail, the reference clerk at the Johnson City Library quoted me the 7th through 12th grade numbers in the Langston book.

Here's the head count numbers for 1965:

Langston 7th Grade: 18 students
Douglass 7th Grade: 20 students in Class A, 20 students in Class B

Langston 8th Grade: 22 students
Douglass 8th Grade: 17 students in Class A, 26 students in Class B

Langston 9th Grade: 30 students
Douglass 9th Grade: 26 students in Class A, 26 students in Class B

Langston 10th Grade: 25 students
Douglass 10th Grade: 23 students

Langston 11th Grade: 34 students
Douglass 11th Grade: 21 students

Langston 12th Grade: 35 students
Douglass 12th Grade: 26 students

Douglass also had 15 Special Education students in 1965.

The total for the 1965 school year was 164 students at Langston, and 220 students at Douglass-Kingsport.

As the 2007 Reunion approaches, Douglass Alumni in Kingsport can take comfort in the fact that they attended THE LARGEST AFRICAN-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL IN UPPER EAST TENNESSEE, and also, THE LARGEST AFRICAN-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL BETWEEN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE AND ROANOKE, VIRGINIA, a huge distance of 237 miles!