Lincoln School

Historical Marker #2345 in Franklin remembers the Lincoln School, which served as that city’s African American school from 1940-1965.

During the “Jim Crow” era, funding for African American schools in southern states often had to come from a combination of funding sources. Private funds, such as the Rosenwald program provided matching monies to communities that made monetary or in-kind contributions. State, county, and city tax funds were also sometimes appropriated for schools buildings. In addition, federal funding through different make-work programs sometimes helped, too.

Due to southern states’ practice of racial segregation, the idea of “separate but equal” rarely worked out in practice the way it was intended in theory. Most often black schools were severely lacking in almost every way: facilities, educational materials, extra-curricular activity opportunities, and teacher compensation.

Until the 1940 opening of the Lincoln School, Franklin’s African American students attended schools first held in community churches and then in a separate city school. A four-year high school was not provided for black students in the city until 1930.

With the opening of the Lincoln School in 1940, Franklin’s African American students finally had the opportunity to learn in quality environment. Amenities, as well as educational and extra-curricular programs that had not been available in the old school opened doors for the new school’s students.

Lincoln began accepting county students in 1944, which naturally brought crowded conditions. To combat the increased number of students, the school made a number of several additions to the building. Classrooms were added, as well as a cafeteria and conference rooms.

Although the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education, stipulated that schools be integrated “with all deliberate speed,” it was not until 1965 that Lincoln was finally desegregated. Lincoln continued to be used after integration but was eventually replaced with a newer school which now serves as an elementary school.