The Committee for Wallace M. Quinn School Reunion will host a banquet on Friday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. at Holy Family Community Center. This banquet, saluting the school that closed 50 years ago, will remember and recognize the role of several individuals from Quinn High who had an impact in our community and nation.
Tickets can be purchased for $10 to attend this event. Contacts are Alfred Goosby, Nedra Jefferson, Rebecca Mathis Floyd, Rosa Tolliver and V. Webb. All proceeds will go toward a scholarship program for community youth.
African Americans of Franklin County has always held education in the highest esteem and understood the value of a sound education. Our history more than demonstrates this fact and has ironclad evidence to prove the legacy exists.
In 1869, Emmanuel Smith, a free black man was appointed to the county school board. After he convinced the school board to build a school for African Americans, the board hired Ezekiel Walton, a minister at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, to build the school. In the 1890s the name was changed to Paul Laurence Dunbar of the school located on the north end of Eighth street, with the main building and playground between Eighth and Ninth streets.
One of Dunbar’s first principals was Gaddis C. Hall. The school’s seven teachers taught grades one through nine. In 1934, the remaining school grades were added. Before then parents had to send their children to Marianna, Quincy, and Tallahassee to complete their education.
In 1936 the school had its first graduating class, made up of 12 students. In 1943 the school burned down, and African Americans held classes in the Masonic and Odd Fellows Hall around Seventh and Eighth streets. Wallace M. Quinn, owner of a local menhaden plant, donated 21 acres for the new school and in April 1945, the Wallace M. Quinn School was finished. There are many distinguished alumni of Wallace M. Quinn School and to name them would be a numerous task, however let’s say we made our mark in the world.
We would like to salute the African-American teachers with the longest service to Dunbar and Quinn High Schools: Louise Baker (46 years), Mary Tolliver (46 years), Mary Edwards (42 years), Ruby Tampa (41 years), Maude Wynn (37 years), Olivia Woods (36 years), Gladys Ford (36 years), and Maude Collins (22) years. Let’s also salute Mr. Charles E. Watson for his 36 years in Franklin County Schools, at one time the only black teacher in Carrabelle.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced school districts in the South to implement the developing concept of integration that the U.S. Supreme Court had established. In June 1967, the last class graduated from Quinn High School with Mr. Willie L. Speed as its principal.