by Kevin Shannahan
Today’s piece of our history is once again drawn from the superb Melrose Collection of NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Archives and Research Center. They are programs from school plays put on in 1944 by the students of St. Matthew Junior High School in Natchez and the Natchitoches Training School in Natchitoches, two African-American schools of the parish in the Jim Crow era. The still familiar family names in the program as well as the names and businesses in the advertisements are a window into our past that stretches into the present day.
These schools may have been modest in size and resources, but it is obvious to anyone looking at the programs that they held high expectations for their students. Schools like these kept the flame of hope alive in a most difficult era. We owe a great deal to the men and women who taught there over the years.