Sometimes good schools close for bad reasons. This was not the case for the Southgate Street School. In 1955, the most incredible, communally accepted, inspiring and successful school in the tri-state area closed because Newport officially became integrated.
Flashback to 1873, this school became the first black school in the area. African-Americans from all across Campbell County only had this school to go to. This was because of the Brown v. Board of Education case.
At one point there were more than 120 students taught by only four teachers and a principal. Fortunately, the surrounding community was very supportive of the students and staff. Southgate was funded by local organizations and households.
Even though, some teachers at Covington High School didn’t believe that any of these children would amount to much and would end up just like their parents, struggling to stay stable.
However, most defied the odds and continued their education at college. Scott Clark, Newport’s historic preservation officer, couldn’t provide the exact statistics for how many students graduated.
Clark was also the one to inform the public of the way the community has reacted similarly in modern day to the opening of Southgate to the way they did to the opening of the school in 1873.
The volunteers hold fundraisers for the school, and funds are donated by locals of Newport, Campbell County and Downtown Cincinnati. In addition to that, families of alumni and homeowners in the area donate artifacts and exhibits to provide for visitors.
The Southgate Street School made such an imprint in the lives of students, staff and the community. Now, since it has reopened as a museum, it will continue to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations.