Black History Month 2024: First Class- Ch. 15 The Fall

This year for Black History Month we’ll review chapter by chapter Alison Stewart’s First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School. This is more Truxton Circle related then this blog’s previous annual looks at Shaw resident and founder of Negro History Week (later Black history month) Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Mis-Education of the Negro. As Dunbar High School is located in Truxton Circle currently taking up all of Square 554.

So it’s 2010 and Dunbar is going down. In flames. Figuratively.

Literally it was a hot mess. In the previous chapter the building was not only ugly as sin, it was also in meh to poor condition in need of serious repairs. The open classroom concept worked against classroom management and made it hard to teach. In a school. Where the whole point is to teach students. Crime was a problem. The crime around the school was also inside. Drugs and gambling were inside. And there was a publicized sexual assault of a student in a stairwell.

Mayor Fenty lost to Vincent Gray in 2010. With that polarizing Superintendent Michelle Rhee was not able to remain, even after being heroically portrayed in Waiting for Superman. Gray removed a lot of Fenty’s work, including the Friends of Bedford managing Dunbar. Rhee was replaced by Kaya Henderson and the FoB were replaced by interim principal Stephen Jackson.

Alumni did not seem to care for Jackson because he was a FoB hire. They did not care for the New York connection. Jackson survived that and was able to stick around for the plans for a 3rd Dunbar building.

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