Focused on Mississippi: Poplar Hill School

Focused on Mississippi

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – Poplar Hill School is now a museum to education. Public education didn’t just spontaneously happen in this nation. It sort of emerged, and public education for African American children was non-existent in Mississippi until well into the 20th Century.

Yet, the African American community realized that education was the key. If the children were to ever become anything more in life, then they had to know more. The parents, grandparents and great grandparents of these people sitting here, the people who spent several years preserving Poplar Hill School, they wanted their children to be the best that they could be. And in the process of banding together to make sure they were educated, it brought people together tighter than just being neighbors. They had a purpose.

“It did. It kept the community together. This was the focus place. Churches, the black churches and your black schools. Schools like this. Because this was the only thing we had,” said Kennith Coffie, a former Poplar Hill student. 

Eventually, the county school system started providing teachers for these one and two room schools. And finally, they were phased out and replaced by classrooms and hallways. But Poplar Hill School is saved as a museum today; to show how African American education was provided after the Civil War for the next 80 to 90 years.

Poplar Hill Schools is northwest of Fayette in Jefferson County.

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