South End

Published by caressadilthey on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:41

33rd & State streets


School no longer in operation
Building no longer exists

The following article was written by Rhonda C. Stewart, of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, for the African American Genealogy Society. It is dated 29 October 2005.

In 1914, the area of Little Rock commonly referred to as the "South End" had its own elementary school for "colored" students. The boundaries of the South End are defined as south of Roosevelt Road, west of Rock Street, east of Woodrow Street and north of Fourche Creek. Schools were segregated by race in the first half of the twentieth century. Colored was the politically correct term of reference during the time period.

Earlier schools catering to colored students were Gibbs High School, Gibbs Elementary, Capitol Hill Elementary and Bush Elementary. From 1909 until 1915 the Little Rock School District added four new elementary schools and one high school. Stephens, East End, South End and Pilgrims Rest were added to provide services of public education to the Negro population of Little Rock. Dunbar High School, named for Ohio poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, became the name of the high school previously known as Gibbs High School. [ed. note: Gibbs and Dunbar are two separate buildings; Dunbar was built in 1929 near the old Gibbs building.]

South End Elementary appears in Polk's Little Rock City Directory listings for 1914. No address is listed for the school.(1) By 1923 the directory lists an address of 33rd corner of Izard. By 1928 the listing changes to the 33rd southeast corner of State.(2) State and Izard streets run north and south through the city, separated by the length of one city block.

Emma K. Thompson served as Principal of South End School from 1914 until 1925. She'd previously taught at Twenty-first Street School. Mrs. Thompson died in 1927.(3) Aurelia J. Vaughn took the duties of Principal at South End Elementary in 1926. She'd previously served as Principal of Gibbs Grammar School.

City directories list Ida Hickman as Principal as early as 1930. Her daughter, Grendette Hickman, also worked for the Little Rock School District, as a teacher. Mrs. Ida Hickman died June 20, 1937.(4)

In an interview at her home, lifelong South End resident Mrs. Ruth Ward Evans of Chester Street recalls attending South End School. She states that she attended school at 33rd & State Street or Riffel. She further states that they had five or six long buildings to house the children, first through sixth grade. The principal at the time was Mrs. Ida Hickman.(5) Teachers included Mrs. Gilliam, Mrs. Finley, Mrs. Pryor, Mrs. Doss, Mrs. Wallace and Mrs. Doris Johnson. The school had no cafeteria and students would get lunch from Crump's Restaurant, across the street from the school.(6)

South End Elementary became a memory by 1950. Its legacy lives on today as the site of the former elementary school now houses the William Thrasher Boys & Girls Club, catering to public school students with after-school programming and year-round activities to educate, motivate and entertain the youth of Little Rock.

1. Polk's Southern Directory Co.'s, 1914, page 54.
2. R.L. Polk & Co's City Directory, 1928, page 16.
3. Fraternal Cemetery burial records, section eight, "Minnie Alexander Chamber."
4. Arkansas Death Record Index 1934-1940.
5. Ruth Ward Evans interview, 2 Apr 2005, at her home, Little Rock, AR.
6. Ibid.

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Updated June 2007