History Columnist Rob Neufeld Looks Back at Allen School, the Private School for Black Women that was a Beacon of Education during the Years of Segregation

An image from the 1968 Allen High School brochure shows four women on the way to class. The original school buildings no longer stand, but later ones, including the one pictured, are now part of Asheville Office Park on College Place. (Photo: Courtesy NC Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library , Special to the Citizen-Times )
An image from the 1968 Allen High School brochure shows four women on the way to class. The original school buildings no longer stand, but later ones, including the one pictured, are now part of Asheville Office Park on College Place.
(Photo: Courtesy NC Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library , Special to the Citizen-Times )

A column two weeks ago about Inez Daugherty, an African-American civic leader from Black Mountain, took us inside an Asheville city bus in the 1950s to witness how she was told by the driver that sitting three rows from the back was not far back enough as a large number of white people got on.

Years later, Daugherty revealed in a 2005 interview, the bus driver ran for office and obliviously sought Daugherty’s vote.

“He was so polite,” she remarked. “He didn’t win.” Daugherty also told about a daughter who attended Allen High School, a private school for girls.

As it turns out, Daugherty “didn’t have just one daughter who went to (Allen); she had four daughters who did,” her next-to-youngest daughter, Carolyn Copeland, revealed in response to the column.

“My mother was an avid reader,” Copeland related. She worked for the wife of Benjamin Hunter, owner of Black Mountain Hosiery Mills, and named Carolyn after her.

Education was key to Carolyn’s mother and her Papa — her stepfather, Robert Moreland. But opportunities beyond grammar school were few.

The Allen answer

In an era when races were segregated, school buses were lacking for African-Americans and African-American parents sought environments that bolstered the dignity and strength of their children, Allen High School was an oasis with a beacon.

It was called Allen Home High School from 1924-41, for it had dormitories. It also had a preschool at which mothers could drop off their little ones. Dr. John P. Holt, who became an Asheville physician, was one of those tots.

“At that time, Allen School was one of the excellent private schools for blacks in the whole country,” he told Bruce Greenawalt, a UNC Asheville professor, in a 1979 interview. “But it was a girls’ school. As I understand it, four of us were the first black boys to go to Allen School.”

Society supported African-American women, whose roles were generally more domestic, maternal and educational than men’s.

The school was founded in 1887 by a women’s group — the Methodist Episcopal Church Woman’s Home Missionary Society — and it stressed home economics. A Quaker woman, Marriage Allen — after whom the school was named — donated the funds for housing in 1897.

Click here to read more

Source: Citizen Times | Rob Neufeld, Visiting Our Past

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s