A Heartbreaking Story About an Arkansas Town That Buried Their Pre-Integration Black School

In the animated StoryCorps essay School’s Out, the Reverend James L. Seawood shared a heartbreaking story about the day the pre-integration school that his mother ran in Sheridan, Arkansas was shut down and literally buried in a giant hole. The closure was due the dwindling African-American population who had been fired from their jobs at the lumber mill and evicted from their homes in the 1950s.

Gradually as the black population in town began to go down, that left my mother there at the school as the principal, the janitor, whatever was needed, she had to do everything. And, as long as there was one black child left in town, they had to keep the school open. So 10, 9, 8, mother was there till the last child, the last family was forced out of town. So I remember one day, mother and I got into the old station wagon because mother had heard that the school was going to be torn down. We went inside the school, we got whatever records we could find, we put them in the back of the station wagon. Then, a big bulldozer came and dug a deep hole, and after digging this deep hole, just pushed our beloved school in the hole and covered it up…and it was as though it was, um, never there.