Southgate Street School closing was both a good and bad thing. Good, because the closing marked the end of segregation in Newport. Bad, because a school that offered inspiring education for African-American children in Newport and Campbell County shut its doors.
Opened in 1873, Southgate Street School was the first school in the area for black children. Four teachers and one superintendent worked hard to give black children an equal, or better education, to those in the white schools. The teachers inspired students, in a community where your place was set in stone. Teachers told them they could be whatever they wanted and achieve their goals.
However, there are many differences between school then and now. Southgate Street School didn’t have running water and air conditioning until 1907, while that is very common in most schools today. Another difference, and also the largest, would be segregation.
Southgate Street School closed in 1955 following the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, and thus was the beginning of a new era for Newport.