Remembering a significant part of Hernando history will be a marker to be officially unveiled during a ceremony Saturday morning.
Oak Grove Central Elementary School, located at 893 West Oak Grove Road, was formerly known as Hernando Central School, a fact that will be recognized with a historical marker during the 11:30 a.m. event.
Hernando Central was the first African-American school established in DeSoto County during what was called the "Equalization Period" of American education.
Following the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which codified "separate but equal" educational opportunities in America during the Jim Crow era, schools across the nation, especially in the American South, attempted to construct separate but equal facilities.
In 1958, Hernando Central became one of the first black high schools to be built during this time period. The building actually served as a school for all grades through grade 12.
By 1970, most schools in DeSoto County, as in Mississippi, would be fully integrated, despite the fact that "separate but equal provisions" had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 with the noted Brown vs. The Board of Education decision, a case in Kansas.
Hernando Central School has a proud and distinctive history, according to Hernando Ward 2 Alderman Rev. Andrew Miller, one of the main organizers of the effort to place a historical marker at the site of the former Hernando Central School.
Oak Grove Central Elementary retains the "Central" part of its heritage in its identification.
"It was a great community effort to get this done," Miller said. "The legacy and impact this school had on generations of students who went through school there continues to be felt. We've had educators trained there. We've had politicians, lawyers and doctors trained there.”
Among those expected to be a part of Saturday’s ceremony will be Fox News political analyst Angela McGlowan, whose father, Prof. James Thomas McGlowan Sr., was principal at Hernando Central.
"It gives me honor to come back home to the great state of Mississippi and witness history,” McGlowan said. “My father was a trailblazer, a builder, and an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Other members of McGlowan’s family are also expected to be on hand, along with Hernando Central faculty and staff from the time period up until 1970, when it became integrated. State, county and city officials, members of the current DeSoto County Schools Board of Education, including Supt. Cory Uselton, have also been invited to come to Saturday’s ceremony event.
Miller said the hard work and preparation for the event has paid off, adding, "It's good to see the fruits of your labor come to a climax and this be accomplished.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune