Historical marker #2548 celebrates the history of J.W. Million School and educator Lester G. Mimms of Earlington.
Black education in Earlington received a boost during the late nineteenth century with the establishment of the Earlington Colored School by 1891. Only twenty-six years after the abolition of slavery, this school helped local African Americans develop skills to navigate the new economy and society. Like many schools across the state and across the nation, the Earlington Colored School reflected the black community's committment to education and a hope that knowledge could serve to improve people's lives.
Professor Lester G. Mimms personified this committment and hope. Prof. Mimms worked in the Hopkins County School System for decades and led the Purple Waves basketball team to many triumphs on the court, but led even more Millionaries to success off the court. His dedication remains an inspiration to those he influenced even decades after he passed away.
The enthusiastic crowd on hand for the dedication events provided compelling evidence for how important J.W. Million School was to Earlington's past and present. Alumni journyed from both near and far to attend and show their appreciation for the school and enjoy each other's company while sharing stories from their shared history. Wet weather couldn't dampen anyone's spirits and after a brief unveiling outside, the crowd moved over to Mt. Zion Baptist Church for the remainder of the ceremony.
Dedication attendees enjoyed delicious food while they heard from a range of speakers. Speakers included Arthur Johnson, Mayor of Earlington, Mary Wooldridge, CEO of the Purple Waves Preservation Society, Andrew Patrick, Community Engagement Coordinator of the Kentucky Historical Society, Tracy Logan, President of the Rosenwald Multicultural Center, Tim Thomas, Kentucky Human Relations Commissioner, Donna Slaton, President of the Hopkins County Historical Society, Charles Gant, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services at Hopkins County School Systems, Michael Lowery, retired history instructor, Carl Veazey, Hopkins County historian, Lynette Hall Burns, 1964 J.W. Million graduate, Albert Tidwell, J.W.M. graduate and Navy veteran, and Anne Gipson, columnist and member of the Hopkins County Historical Society. Rev. Glenda Wade, President of the Purple Waves Preservation Society, gave the dedication address and Margie Bowman of the Hopkins County Historical Society led the audience in a dedication song. At the end of the ceremony, Mayor Johnson presented Mary Wooldridge and Rev. Glenda Wade with the deed to the former site of J.W. Million school, which they accepted on behalf of the Purple Waves Preservation Society. They hope to eventually build a small museum on the site.
The marker reads:
J.W. MILLION SCHOOL
Black students went to Earlington
Colored School by 1891. Wooden
school replaced by brick building
in 1905 by St. Bernard Mining Co.
on land donated by J.B. Atkinson.
Inspired by Rev. Joseph W.
Million, activist and pastor of
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist
Church, the school was renamed
the J.W. Million School in 1938.
Hopkins Co. Historical Society
PROF. LESTER G. MIMMS
Dedicated principal and educator
Prof. Lester G. Mimms (1905-1991)
served the Hopkins County School
System for 37 years. He was the
renowned basketball coach
of the J.W. Million Purple Waves
from 1935-1964. Professor Mimms
received an honorary degree of
Doctor of Humanities in 1980
from Simmons Bible College.
Hopkins Co. Historical Society
The marker was dedicated on May 5, 2018.