In pursuant of guidelines set down in the state codes of 1949, governing the standards of schools, the Lincoln County Board of Education, finally, in 1951, initiated seven building projects throughout the county. Its purpose was to bring the schools up to building standards. There was no high school for black students in the county school system. There was, however, a high school in the Lincolnton school system for blacks, but it did not meet the guidelines according to the number of students and the requirement for accreditation.
It was decided that bringing black children from both systems into a new consolidated school within the county system could solve this problem. In February 1951, The Lincoln County School Board advertised to let contracts to the lowest bidder for the construction of a new school. The new school was simply designated project # 7. The estimated time of completion was one year from the awarding of the first contract, which would have been awarded around February 28, 1951.The architect, was Robert L. Clemmer of Hickory, North Carolina. The building, plumbing, heating and electrical contractors were local companies.
It was suggested by Dr. W.G. Bandy, then the chairman of the Lincoln County School Board, that this proposed school would be named, Newbold Union School in honor of Dr. Nathan Carter Newbold.
Newbold was a white educator, who for over 40 years had been involved in the education of black students. His service was mostly within the Division of Negro Education within the State Department of Education.
As early as 1920, he served as the North Carolina agent of the Rosenwald Fund, which aided in the construction of over 600 black schools in this state, including Oaklawn School. Newbold and his assistant, George E. Davis of Johnson C. Smith University involved themselves directly in the Oaklawn School. Newbold announced his retirement in 1951. The board accepted Dr. Bandy's suggestion with the support of Mr. Joe Nixon, the superintendent. The "Union" was dropped from the name because there was already a Union High School in the County for whites. Dr. Bandy died months later and did not see the completion of the new school.
At first glance, the construction of the school seemed to have been completed on time and within budget, which was set at $183,000. On examination of school board minutes, one finds that the school was deliberately underfunded. Shortly after construction began, Newbold received the lowest priority of the seven projects. The architect was forced to revise his plans to allow for nine classrooms instead of eleven. No provisions were made for a gymnasium or an auditorium. The school board said that it was restrained by its present budget, an excuse we heard many times over the years.
It is interesting that projects five and six were over funded by the exact cost of the two classrooms and adjoining hallway, which was in the original plans for Newbold.
These classrooms were eventually built along with a gymnatorium some years later.
The students were scheduled to start at Newbold in March,'52, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. Rain and snow had soaked the grounds, which had not yet been paved. The students from Oaklawn and other schools in the county, except Northbrook in West Lincoln, arrived on campus around April 20th, 1952.
This notice appeared in the local newspaper on April 29, 1952: "The students and faculty of Newbold High School will hold their initial open house on Friday" The Principal is George E. Massey.
April 20, 1952 marks the founding date of Newbold High School and the beginning of a sixteen-year history that became the origin of our legacy which was part of the one-hundred-year legacy [1868-1968] of separate and unequal African American education in Lincoln County.
It started with the naming of the school by Dr. W.G. Bandy and it ended with the renaming of the school by Norris Childers, the superintendent. He simply made a motion in a school board meeting to change the name to Central in 1969.The motion was unopposed.
As in 1951, we were not there to lend our voices, so we were never heard then.
After the founding of the school in 1952, the first landmark came in 1953 with the graduation of a class that began and ended a full year at Newbold. There were many such landmarks over the next sixteen years. The second landmark came with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954.
It did not interest us then; after all, the implementation of that court order was 14 years in our future.
The third landmark came in 1955, with the arrival of five new teachers, Harper, Turner, Mckaskill, Murray and Pryor.
Mrs. Lillian Pryor Williams said,"Mr. Massey wanted to hire teachers who lived up to his moral standards."
The fourth landmark came in 1957, with the graduation of the class that was at Newbold a full four years. 1957 also marked the school’s fifth anniversary year.
The fifth landmark was the senior year 1962-1963, which was the tenth anniversary year. This year above others defined us as a student body and community.
We all have fond memories of our school, so we tend to overlook the realities of discrimination in a segregated system, a system where we received second-hand and hand-me-down books from the white high school.
Some of the books came to us with racial epithets written in them.
Our science lab was inadequately equipped. I remember that each biology class dissected the same frogs until the organs were unidentifiable and fell apart.
The school and community had to purchase their own activity bus. We witnessed the greatest creativity in raising money. One class raffled off a pig among workers at the Cowan Ford Dam. We saw the creation of the Junior Oratorical Contest to advance public speaking, and the establishment of a varsity track and field program. Our home economics department became one of the best in the state. We could continue but we will leave it for now.
1966, was the beginning of the end. The Supreme Court ruling caught up with Lincoln County. The Court ruled back in '54 that Segregated schools were “inherently unequal”, and must be desegregated with “all deliberate speed". There were two Newbold students already at Lincolnton High School, and another at Rock Springs Elementary. The H.E.W., now a defunct governmental agency, came to Lincolnton and said that the schools must be fully integrated immediately, or federal funds would be cut off.
The class of 1967 -1968 was the last high school class. The elementary school year of '68-'69 was the last year school was held under the Newbold name.
The school operated as Central Junior High School. The Newbold Alumni Association petitioned the school board to change the school’s name many years later.
The name was change to G.E. Massey Elementary School in honor of George E. Massey, the first and only Principal of Newbold High and Elementary School.
How Education for African Americans
Began in Lincoln County, N.C.
BESS CHAPEL CHURCH
- 1859: During 1859, Bess Chapel Methodist Church was established by local whites in the Vale, N.C. community. As was the southern antebellum practice, black slaves may have attended Bess Chapel and allowed to sit in the rear or upstairs gallery! A slave cemetery was/is established there.
BESS CHAPEL SCHOOL
- 1867: (Two years after emancipation) Bess Chapel School, opened in the Vale area associated with a newly established black church, El Bethel ME Church. This is the earliest known established public education for African Americans in Lincoln County, N.C. The Freedmen‘s Bureau reported that this school did not have class in cold weather, as it was no more than a stand in the woods. Nathan Bess and Lucy Craft were the teachers at the Bess School in 1867. Lucy Craft, about 14-years-old, was originally from Georgia. She later became a very famous educator known as Lucy C. Laney in the Augusta, Georgia area.
EL BETHEL SCHOOL
- 1880: El Bethel ME Church, was rebuilt in 1880 by Christopher Bess for the local black population. This allowed the black community to build their own school called it El Bethel School. A large influx of migrant blacks from the Lancaster, South Carolina area settled in the Vale north west Lincoln county community during the late 1930’s – 1950’s. This caused massive growth in the ‘New El Bethel Methodist Church into the 1950’s. The African American Bess family pulled out of Bess Chapel in in Vale in 1865. The Freedmen‘s Bureau reported that this school did not have class in cold weather, as it was no more than a stand in the woods. Thomas Bess went to Lincolnton and co-founded Hinton Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church on Lee Avenue. He later moved to the Poplar Springs community. Hinton Chapel, as a United Methodist Church, then moved to Car Farm Road. A Quaker School was established in 1867 in an existing house. It had glass windows rather than shutters. It had fire places rather than free standing Franklin stoves. This school house had a second floor. It was located across the street where Sears store is now. It was founded by the society of friends of Philadelphia, Pa. In 1870, the freedmen school was held in trust by Moore’s chapel AME Zion church. The western North Carolina conference established Moore’s academy in the church in 1891. This school was moved to Greenville, Alabama and became Lomax-Hannon College in 1893.
1924-1968: FEEDER SCHOOLS THAT SUPPORTED NEWBOLD HIGH
- The Lincolnton Rosenwald School was established in 1924. Under the first principal, Luther L. Ramseur, the school was renamed Oaklawn School. There were five more Rosenwald Schools in the county. They were Rock Hill, Tuckers Grove, Mt. Vernon, Poplar Grove and Rock Hill. In 1952, these schools were built under Nathan C. Newbold, an agent of the Rosenwald Fund in North Carolina. In 1952 a new high school was built and named for Newbold. Newbold High School operated until 1968. The members of the class of 1969 were not able to graduate. They were in the ’69 class at West Lincoln, Lincolnton, and East Lincoln. Students from west Lincoln came from the Vale and North Brook All Black Elementary Schools; from Mt. Vernon School, Popular Springs School, Tuckers Grove Elementary and Rock Hill Elementary. Students from the eastern and western Lincoln County area were shuttled by school bus using student drivers to Newbold after the 7th grade. It was a two-hour ride getting to Lincolnton from the Denver area each a.m. and after school drive.
Have Us E-mail You The Latest News
Your #1 Local Source for News, Sports, Opinion, Obituaries, Religion, Classifieds, Events, Photos, Community, Coupons, and more!
Serving Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston and Cleveland counties including the areas of Lincolnton, Denver, Maiden, Stanley, Alexis, Vale, Crouse, Iron Station, High Shoals and Cherryville.
Not a newspaper, not a magazine, we’re online – on your computer at home or work, on your smartphone… with news and more 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year including holidays.