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The John S Cobb School. Photo taken from the Southeast Missourian</DIV>

The John S Cobb School. Photo taken from the Southeast Missourian


Segregation was a harsh reality for many African Americans throughout the country after the Civil War. It was an ugly and malicious social experiment practiced by whites to control African American lives, particularly in the Deep South. While not as severe in Cape Girardeau, some degree of segregation did exist in the community. This can be demonstrated with the community's students and the opening of the Lincoln school in 1890 for African American individuals. Over the next 50 years the school churned out generations of educated African Americans, many of whom graduated and went to college. As students came and went, the school itself evolved, changing its name to the John Cobb School in 1925 and gaining a gymnasium/auditorium by the 1930s. In all, the Cobb school educated its students at a higher level than most cities of its size until a fire shut down its doors in 1953. Knowing a desegregation ruling would be handed down by the Supreme Court, a new African American school was not rebuilt. Instead, black students were sent to other schools in the community as integration officially was implemented. While this implementation of integration made Cape Girardeau one of the first cities in Missouri to desegregate, questions can be raised about how "integrated" the schools actually became. The John Cobb school, thus, is not only worthy of investigation for its role in integration in the 1950s, but can also be used to open up the conversation concerning race and schools today.

About the Lesson

Getting Started on the Cobb School

Setting the Stage for Segregation

Locating the Cobb School

Determining the Facts Through Reading

Visual Evidence

Putting it all Together

Supplemental Resources on the Cobb school

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