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Piney Woods School - An Oral History

Piney Woods School

An Oral History

By Alferdteen Harrison
Photographs by Roland Freeman
Paperback : 9781578068760, 196 pages, January 2006

The story of an extraordinary African American school in Rankin County, Mississippi, that served underprivileged, rural, and handicapped Black students during the Jim Crow era


This is the story of an extraordinary school in the piney woods of Mississippi and of the enduring people of the Piney Woods Community who forged on against incredible odds to make a better world for themselves and their children. To these poor, backwoods, turn-of-the-century African Americans of Rankin County, Mississippi, Laurence C. Jones (1882–1975) brought the Booker T. Washington model of training African Americans to be good workers.

Because the school followed Jim Crow social codes and mirrored what were then expedient race relations in the South, Piney Woods School thrived without controversy and with encouragement from Mississippi whites. It served a noble purpose by opening its doors for the educational training of underprivileged rural African American students as well as for the visually and physically impaired of the state at a time when there was absolutely no other institution for them.

Piney Woods School: An Oral History is based upon a series of interviews with educators, former students, and members of the rural community, as well as upon archival records. The author recounts how the school was able to develop as an important educational and training center for rural African Americans and why it has appealed to a broad community which by 1978 helped the school to acquire an endowment of more than $12 million. The author also recounts how the current administration of Piney Woods School continues to foster a tradition of excellence and to meet present-day challenges.