Greenville in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Sterling High School
Destroyed by fire 1967
J.C. Martin • R.L. Hickson • Joseph E. Beck • Harold O. Mims, Sr. • Luke H. Chatman
Sponsored and erected by
Class of 1955
Erected 1988 by Class of 1955.
Location. 34° 50.264′ N, 82° 25.124′ W. Marker is in Greenville, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is at the intersection of Jenkins Street and Maloy Street, on the left on Jenkins Street. Touch for map. This is the location where the Sterling High School stood before it was destroyed by fire. Marker is in this post office area: Greenville SC 29601, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Working Benevolent Society Hospital (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Sterling High School (approx. 0.4 miles away); Allen Temple AME Church Bell (approx. 0.6 miles away); "Shoeless Joe" Jackson House (approx. 0.7 miles away); Cigar Factory (approx. 0.7 miles away); Clay Buchholz (approx. 0.7 miles away); Jim Rice Tommy Lasorda (approx. 0.7 miles away); Lou Brissie (approx. 0.7 miles away); Al Rosen (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
1. About Sterling High School
The origins of Sterling High School began with the visionary leadership of Reverend Daniel Melton Minus. The primary mission of Minus's move to Greenville in the 1890s was to take over the pastorate of the city's earliest surviving African American church, Silver Hill Methodist Episcopal (soon to be renamed John Wesley Methodist Episcopal). Within a few years, Minus's passion grew to provide local African America children with their first high school. He proceeded to spearhead the organization of an educational committee, finding funding and securing the permits from the state to open the school. His dream became a reality with the opening of the Greenville Academy in 1896 in a humble room at the Silver Hill Church. Enrollment steadily increased and more space was needed to accommodate the growth.
According to Ruth Ann Butler, the school bought the church building and remained in it for several years until trustees decided a new purpose-built structure should be erected. Minus enlisted the financial and organizational help of a number of Greenville's leading Caucasian businessmen, in an unprecedented display of racial unity. The most important contributor was Thomas Parker, who financed the building of the new two-story school in west Greenville on the corner of what would become Jenkins and Maloy Streets. With the move, Greenville Academy was renamed Sterling Industrial College to honor the name of the woman who had financed Reverend Minus's education at Claflin University. Soon new streets and an African American community developed around the school.
The school prospered in its early years under the leadership of Reverend Minus and his successor, Carey Jones. However, the school closed for a short time and was reused as Enoree High School until 1929, when Greenville County bought the building and returned the Sterling name as Sterling High School. The rejuvenated institution went on to produce a the majority of Greenville's future African American leaders.
Joseph Allen Vaughn, Sterling's student body president, became Furman University's first African American undergraduate student admitted when the university desegregated in 1965. He was embraced by the student body and became an officer in the Baptist Student Union, vice-president of the Southern Student Organizing Committee, a sports cheerleader and a volunteer in the Collegiate Educational Service Corps. He also organized and rallied fellow students in civil rights marches in downtown Greenville.
Jesse Jackson attended Sterling and became an honors student as well as the star quarterback for the football team. His talents were good enough to earn him a football scholarship to the University of Illinois in 1959. He went on to get involved as a civil rights activist before going to seminary in Chicago. Just before graduating, he left school to join Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights movement in Alabama. After the death of Dr. King, Jackson led a number of civil and economic rights organizations, including Operation PUSH and the National Rainbow Coalition. Jesse Jackson became the first African American to run for president of the United States in the 1984 race and again in 1988. Jackson continues to be an internationally known civil rights leader.
Other notable graduates of Sterling include Ruth Ann Butler, founder of the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center; Ralph Anderson, South Carolina senator; Lillian Brock Fleming, one of the first female African American Furman graduates and the first African American woman to serve on the Greenville County County; and Xanthene Norris and Lottie Gibson, also both Greenville County Council members.
A significant chapter in Greenville's history closed when Sterling (except the gymnasium) was destroyed by a fire in 1967 and was dissolved three years later when Greenville County schools were integrated. (Source: A Guide to Historic Greenville, South Carolina by John Nolan (2008), pgs. 88-90.)
— Submitted May 24, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Categories. • African Americans • Education •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 30, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,318 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 30, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.