Lincoln-Jackson School began with only two students

Don McAlavy: Local Columnist

Lincoln-Jackson School, a segregated school, had its beginning in 1924 in the Patterson Chapel Church which was then located at 609 West 1st Street. Miss Marjorie Ford was the first teacher. She came from Temple, Texas to teach two students, Ray Love and Herman Dillard.

Mrs. Ida O. Jackson replaced Miss Ford in 1926 and had a total of five students enrolled. She found the dilapidated church “rocking and reeling every time the wind blew.” She worked hard for a better school in a segregated town. There were few blacks in Clovis. Black travelers were denied rooms at the local hotels. There were other discriminations.

Mrs. Jackson was a kind woman just trying to teach and keep the school going. Due to limited space, the school was moved across the street to Bethlehem Baptist Church at 1st and Calhoun Street the following year.

This school was at this church until 1930, at which time a one-room house and two lots were purchased and the school was moved to 104 and 106 Merriwether. This structure served as the school for the next five years. By 1935 the school had grown to 35 students and needed an additional teacher. James Williams was appointed by the board to serve as teaching principal.

When a name was sought for the school, there were two names offered, Lincoln and Jackson. Because of the high esteem and respect the students had for Mrs. Jackson, many wanted to name it Jackson School. Some factions wanted to honor a past president, Lincoln. The School Board compromised and called it Lincoln-Jackson School
The 12th grade was added in 1949. Mrs. Lila Dotson was appointed to the faculty that year when enrollment reached 127 students. In 1950 they saw the first graduating class of three.

In 1954 a modern blond brick building was built for the school, housing five classrooms and a shop. This structure was built to serve as the Lincoln-Jackson High School.

After the Supreme Count decision in 1954, the Board eliminated Lincoln-Jackson High School and altered the new building to accommodate elementary students. Lincoln-Jackson continued to serve preschool through sixth grade students.

Not only did Mrs. Jackson teach school, she also taught Sunday School as well. Her commitment to the church meant that, twice a year, she telephoned nearly every black Clovis resident on Easter Sunday and on Mother’s Day. Mrs. Jackson died on Dec. 24, 1960, at age 70. She was buried in Mission Gardens of Memories.

Mrs. Jackson’s home is gone now. She did not run a rooming house but “took in strays and people without housing,” a former student revealed. “People promised to pay her for lodging, but they never did. They took advantage of her but it never bothered her.”

Mrs. Jackson would turn over in her grave if she knew that her school would be closed.

Will it be closed? Let’s hope not!

The Lincoln-Jackson School, now teaching liberal arts, had funding in recent years by our federal government and from what I have heard, the students there were making excellent progress. I talked to their fifth- grade class several years ago about Clovis history. They had done their homework and told me more about Clovis than I thought they knew.

Just goes to show you, smart students will out.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telescoplab.com