Fort Scott in Bourbon County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Free to Learn
If you had been an African-American student standing here around 1950, you would have been facing your school, the Hawkins School (above). This school was part of a continuum of African-American education that began with the Civil War and ended with school integration in 1955.
Along with freedom the Civil War brought the need – and the previously denied opportunity – for education. Schools like the Hawkins School met that need and provided that opportunity.
Prominent Americans who attended Fort Scott’s African-American schools included George Washington Carver and Gordon Alexander Parks. Born a slave, Carver gained renown as an artist, educator, chemist, agronomist, and botanist. Parks, an author, composer, photographer, and poet, was acclaimed Kansan of the Year in 1985 and received the National Medal of Arts in 1988. Carver attended the Fort Scott Colored School in 1878-79; Parks attended 2nd Plaza School in the 1920s.
[Photo captions read]
Between 1865 and 1955, four African-American schools (map, above) were located on or adjacent to land which now comprises Fort Scott National Historic Site. The last of the four, called the 2nd Plaza School (left), stood directly in front of you. To honor Professor Ernest Hawkins, who served here for many years, the school was
“Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Be Somebody”
Professor Ernest Hawkins
Born in Fort Scott in 1875, Ernest Hawkins devoted his life to African-American education. He was a part of Fort Scott’s African-American schools for 65 years, first as a student, then a teacher, then principal. Professor Hawkins encouraged his students to “look sharp, be sharp, be somebody.”
Erected 1998 by National Park Service.
Location. 37° 50.568′ N, 94° 42.234′ W. Marker is in Fort Scott, Kansas, in Bourbon County. Marker can be reached from Old Fort Boulevard. Touch for map. Marker is on the grounds of Fort Scott National Historic Site, near the RV parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Scott KS 66701, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Where Was the Bathroom? (within shouting distance of this marker); Infantry Life (within shouting distance of this marker); The Heart of Fort Scott (within shouting distance of this marker); "The Crack Post of the Frontier" (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Quartermaster Complex Civil War Town (about 400 feet away); "A Most Deplorable Condition" (about 500 feet away); Fort Scott Yesterday (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Scott.
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights • Education • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 29, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 715 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 29, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.