Historical marker #2607 commemorates Dunham High School, located in Letcher County.
Jenkins, Kentucky is located at the foot of Pine Mountain and was founded by the Consolidation Coal Company (CCC) and named in honor George C. Jenkins of Baltimore and a director of the CCC. The town quickly grew due to the large workforce employed by Consolidation and a line of the Lexington and Eastern Railroad that soon extended into Letcher County.
Segregated schools, called “colored schools” at the time, in the Jenkins School System were developed due to a growing number of Black coal miners working for Consolidation Coal Company. The Letcher County School Board agreed to pay Jenkins Schools all money collected from taxes and money paid to the school treasury to maintain schools for the education of Black students in the county. In 1916, the first Jenkins Colored School was established with a staff of one teacher for 58 students. In 1928, there were 528 students in the segregated schools in Letcher County and during the 1936-37 school year, there were 374 students in 3 schools. For a number of years, Dunham Colored High School, under the Jenkins School System, was the only high school for African Americans in Letcher County.
In 1931, the Letcher County School Board and the city of Jenkins agreed to expand the Jenkins Colored School to serve 1-12 grade students and renamed it Dunham High School. The county contracted with Jenkins to educate its Black students throughout the county. Students from the Jenkins, McRoberts, Fleming, and Haymond areas all attended Dunham. In 1931, the first 9th grade class enrolled at Dunham High and the 1934-35 school year saw the first class graduate. In 1938, the Jenkins School Board voted to request the Consolidation Coal Company add four rooms to Dunham High’s campus.
Dunham High School, which remained the only high school Black students were allowed to attend until 1964, closed at the end of the 1964-65 school year, a decade after Brown v. Board of Education ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The building housed the Jenkins Junior High School from 1965 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1969.
The marker was dedicated on August 28, 2021.
Dunham High School
Dunham High School opened in 1931
as the only high school for black
students in Letcher County. The
school educated students from the
Jenkins, McRoberts, Fleming, and
Haymond areas. Dunham High School
remained open until 1964, a decade
after Brown v. Board of Education,
which ruled racial segregation in
public schools unconstitutional.
It was destroyed by fire in 1969.