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Newkirk in Kay County, Oklahoma — The American South (West South Central)
 

African-Americans

 
 
African-Americans Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., October 24, 2011
1. African-Americans Marker
Inscription.  

From the beginning, African-Americans settled and lived in Newkirk -- although this was not true in most of the towns in Kay County. They settled primarily on the east side of town, building their own community which included churches, restaurants, schools and stores. The Mount Olive Baptist Church was organized in 1894 with Albert Jones as minister. At a later date the African Methodist Episcopal Church was also organized.

The first Black school was opened in the French Restaurant with a teacher named Work in September 1894. In 1897, the school had fifteen students enrolled. These African-American children represented five percent of the school age children in Newkirk at that time.

When the new stone public school building opened in February, 1897, the Black children with their parents tried to enter the school. When they were informed that a separate school had been prepared for them on the west side of the public square, a riot very nearly ensued. Although they were finally persuaded to leave, they all refused to attend school that day. The very next week the territorial government passed a bill requiring separate
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schools for white and Black children. In 1899 the school board voted to build a separate school for[?] Black students. William Morgan built the school, and it was completed by October 1899. It was named the Nathaniel Dett school, and Porter W. Smith was elected its director.

Black students wishing to attend school beyond the eighth grade were bussed to Attucks High School in Ponca City. This continued until the end of segregation in 1956 when the school was closed and all the students integrated. Racial segregation in the Newkirk schools ended with the 1955-56 school year.

At this time the average daily attendance at Nathaniel Dett School was twenty-two students. It served grades one through six. Unlike many areas of the South, integration hardly caused a ripple in Newkirk. Superintendent Nantz reported that integration of Negro students in the city schools had been accepted without any incident of any nature. One indication of their acceptance was shown by the selection of three African-American students as members of the Student Council.
 
Erected by Modern Woodmen of America.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsEducation
African-Americans Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., October 24, 2011
2. African-Americans Marker
Looking west, with Kay County Courthouse in background
Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1897.
 
Location. 36° 52.874′ N, 97° 3.21′ W. Marker is in Newkirk, Oklahoma, in Kay County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (U.S. 77) and 8th Street, on the right when traveling north on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newkirk OK 74647, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Land of Hope (within shouting distance of this marker); Kay County War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Kay County Abstract Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Oklahoma State Centennial 1907 - 2007 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Newkirk Kay County Fair (about 400 feet away); Newkirk (about 400 feet away); Fire of 1901 (about 500 feet away); First National Bank (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newkirk.
 
Also see . . .  Newkirk, Oklahoma. (Submitted on October 21, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 21, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 581 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 21, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Jun. 19, 2024