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The Tredyffrin Easttown ‘School Fight’ 1932 – 1934 Presented by Roger D. Thorne Tredyffrin Easttown History Club.

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Presentation on theme: "The Tredyffrin Easttown ‘School Fight’ 1932 – 1934 Presented by Roger D. Thorne Tredyffrin Easttown History Club."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Tredyffrin Easttown ‘School Fight’ 1932 – 1934 Presented by Roger D. Thorne Tredyffrin Easttown History Club

2 Across the pedestrian bridge connecting Lancaster and Cassett Avenues in Berwyn, a structure built in 1917 was originally called the Berwyn Theater. Seating was segregated through the 1930s.

3 The Robinson Wellburn Elks Lodge 791, on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn. Built in the 1950s, it operated as an active lodge for people of color for almost 50 years.

4 Wilmer K. Groff W. K. Groff was born in Limerick, PA in 1880, He received his B.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. degree from Lafayette College. He came to Berwyn in 1926 as principal of the Easttown Elementary Schools. In 1931 he was made Superintendent of the entire Tredyffrin and Easttown townships and the T/E High School, the position he held at his death in 1941.

5 March 7, 1932 – Two Agreements were consummated between Tredyffrin and Easttown School Districts Agreement #1: The Tredyffrin School District will abandon and discontinue the use of its North Berwyn School. The Tredyffrin School District makes application to Easttown District to permit certain pupils from specified parts of Tredyffrin Township to be assigned to and enrolled in the new Easttown Elementary School now under construction, for a specified fee per pupil, effective July 4, 1932

6 The North Berwyn School was built as a one-room schoolhouse on the southeast corner of what is today Conestoga and Cassett Roads in Later additions enlarged it to contain four classrooms. The school operated until 1932, when it was closed. The old North Berwyn School was then renovated and a second floor added. In 1936 it was again used, this time by the T / E High School for its vocational and art departments. Today, it houses the Maintenance Department of the T/E Schools.

7 March 7, 1932 – Two Agreements were consummated between Tredyffrin and Easttown School Districts Agreement #1: The Tredyffrin School District will abandon and discontinue the use of its North Berwyn School. The Tredyffrin School District makes application to Easttown District to permit certain pupils from specified parts of Tredyffrin Township to be assigned to and enrolled in the new Easttown Elementary School now under construction, for a specified fee per pupil, effective July 4, 1932.

8 In 1930 the school authorities in Easttown decided to build a modern consolidated school They acquired a tract of land on the south side of First Avenue, east of Bridge Street in Berwyn, and began construction of a new Easttown Elementary School. The new school was first occupied in the fall of The school was closed in 1977 and converted to administrative space for the Tredyffrin / Easttown school district.

9 March 7, 1932 – Two Agreements were consummated between Tredyffrin and Easttown School Districts Agreement # 2: The Tredyffrin School District reaffirms its desire to abandon and discontinue the use of its North Berwyn School. The Tredyffrin School District agreed to establish and maintain together with Easttown District a school now owned by Easttown District and currently called Easttown Primary School [to be renamed the Lincoln Highway School], for the joint use in the instruction of certain pupils of both Townships. The Tredyffrin School District agrees to pay its share of operating expenses to the Easttown District plus a lease fee per year. Agreement effective July 4, 1932.

10 A new Berwyn Primary School was built in 1912 on Lancaster Avenue at Central and Walnut Avenues, in the next block west of an older Grammar School closed in In 1932 the Tredyffrin School Board leased the vacated Berwyn Primary School from the Easttown authorities. The school was refurbished and renamed the Lincoln Highway School, and continued in operation until It is currently a private office building.

11 March 10, The Main Line Daily Times Townships Will Provide Exclusive Colored Schools "... Easttown, and Tredyffrin Townships are two Townships which have not had Colored schools. This has probably been due to the fact that neither of them heretofore had a sufficiently large Negro population. In my opinion [this] decision is the largest step forward that Berwyn has taken in the last 25 years. It's a shame that [our townships have] been stagnated by inadequate schools and the policy of mixing the races therein!"

12 The first public meeting to protest the joint school board’s decision was held on March 16, 1932 in the United American Protestant Association Hall located at the corner of Bridge St. and Lancaster Road in Berwyn. Primus Crosby of Berwyn presided. At the close, a petition was written for signatures from the black community to be taken to the Easttown School Board.

13 Primus L. Crosby Primus L. Crosby was born in Alabama in 1884, attended Tuskegee Institute and studied under Booker T. Washington. He left Alabama for Pennsylvania in 1918, and his wife Jessye and twin daughters Bessie and Essie joined him later. Although a printer by profession, and the only black businessman in Berwyn, Crosby was also a lumber grader for C. A. Loeb & Co., Devon, and worked for the American Bronze Co., Berwyn. He and his family moved to Maple Avenue, Berwyn in 1924 where he lived until his death in 1980.

14 May 5, Easttown School District Minutes - After consulting with members of the Tredyffrin and Easttown Boards, the Easttown School District instructed the Secretary ‘to notify Mr. Primus L. Crosby, Chairman, also Mr. Powell and Mr. Tyre as follows’; "The action of this Board in adopting the plans which you protest was taken only after careful and mature consideration in the sincere belief that ultimately they will work to the best advantage of every pupil. We feel that you should show sufficient confidence in your Board to enable it to make a fair trial of this plan for the three years to which it is committed. Once the plan is in operation your Board believes that the results will prove entirely satisfactory to all our citizens. Relying upon your cooperation, we remain”

15 Raymond Pace Alexander was a Philadelphian born in 1897, the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, class of 1920, and a 1923 graduate of the Harvard Law School. By 1932 he had been in practice for 9 years.

16 An original school building in the Mt. Pleasant section of Wayne was built in 1867 and finally razed in The new, stone Mt. Pleasant School building was built upon the same site. This new school was used until the 1940s. The building, located at 1008 Upper Gulph Road across from the Radnor Country Club, has been renovated and is now an office complex.

17 Built in 1861, the old chapel of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Devon originally served an African-American enclave known as Quigley Town

18 The interior of the old chapel of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Devon. During the ‘school fight’ it served as a primary meeting hall for the black community from both townships.

19 The original cover page for one of the two PETITIONS OF MANDAMUS, notarized October 8, 1932 and signed by Raymond Pace Alexander

20 An old school at the corner of Upper Gulph and West Valley Roads was replaced in 1930 by a new, larger Strafford School built upon a piece of adjoining property. The school served for fifty years until it was closed in The private Woodlynde School now occupies the site.

21 March 9, 1933 Mr. Robert G. Ligget, Secretary, Tredyffrin Township School Board Berwyn, Pennsylvania Dear Mr. Ligget: It has come to my attention that since about the first day of October, 1932, your school district has refused or neglected to enforce the compulsory attendance provisions of the school laws in the district, and that as a result a large number of children of compulsory school age in your district have not attended school since that date. Therefore, you are hereby notified that on Monday, March 27th, 1933, at 3:50 o'clock, P. M, I will hold a hearing in my office in the Education Building, State Capitol, Harrisburg, at which your Board is required to appear and show cause, if any you have, why the State appropriation allotted to your school district should not be forfeited as provided by Section 1431 of the School Code of 1911, as amended by the Act of May 2, 1921, P. L Very truly yours, JAMES N. RULE

22 The Salem School was built in 1863 on the western end of Yellow Springs Road, one of two schools built to replace the Diamond Rock School which closed the same year. This school was made up of an original one-story structure and an adjoining two-story frame building. The Salem School was closed in The buildings are currently owned by private owners.

23 The Paoli Elementary School replaced an original building built in 1902 on the east side of South Valley Road. This new modern grammar school, built in 1927, located on the north side of the railroad at the corner of Fennerton Road and Central Avenue in Paoli, remained in service until It is now operated as the Delaware Valley Friends School.

24 Truancy Fine Schedule Payable by Parents of Absent Pupils October 1933 First Offense - $1.00 (equates to $43.00 in today’s dollars. Second and subsequent Offenses - $2.50 (equates to $ in today’s dollars.

25 Raymond Pace Alexander describes the grinding legal battle: “... for two long years, battling in Chester County, rebuffed; then to Harrisburg to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania for state supported mandamus, then returning to Chester County, back to Harrisburg and innumerable trips — all at night — at least 50 in all — to take testimony in various churches...”. A Short Summary of the Life and Activities of Raymond Pace Alexander

26 March 17, 1934 Dear Mr. Cobb: I hope you will forgive my long delay in replying to your very kind letter of March 10. I am willing to do anything in my power to try to settle the unfortunate difference between the School Board and the parents. I am today writing to the Attorney for the School Board to see what can be done. I appreciate immensely the spirit of your letter and would be more than delighted if I could be of real service in bringing about an adjustment. Sincerely, William Schnader State Attorney General, (Pa.)

27 The Coatesville Record May 1, 1934 “Tredyffrin township's segregated school controversy ended yesterday when Negro boys and girls and white children attended the same schools. Announcement was made by Raymond Pace Alexander, colored attorney representing the parents of more than 220 Negro children who refused to attend schools specially designated for them, that the joint school boards of Easttown and Tredyffrin townships had notified him yesterday that the segregated system would be done away with at once. Alexander, in turn, sent notice to the parents that they should send their children to school yesterday morning, and a check up showed that nearly all of the parents had compiled.”

28 The Tredyffrin Easttown ‘School Fight’

29 8 Minute Bell Questions: When did the “School Fight” occur? What did the TE School Board want to do? What buildings were involved? Who were the leaders of the School Fight? What did the black community do to fight back? How did they break the “jailing cycle”? How was the fight resolved?


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