Records for the earliest school for blacks in Jacksonville date from 1884. At first, the school was located on the comer of Kickapoo and Washington Streets.

In the early 1900s, as the college grew and had a use for the space, the school was moved to North Ragsdale Street. At that time, it was called the Little Red Schoolhouse. This school held all grades, as did most small schools. This second school burned in 1921.

In 1922, the first Fred Douglass School was built on Elberta Street (later MLK) at a cost of $5,700. Local funds were supplemented with money from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation.

Later, in 1930, a “new” Fred Douglass School was built in Lincoln Park. In 1958, Elberta Street Primary School was erected on the site of the first Fred Douglass School.

Until 1973, the black students were governed by the white trustees of Jacksonville ISD. That changed somewhat in 1973 when James D. Hayes became the first black trustee in JISD. Mr. Hayes served until 1984. He was followed by Robert Christopher in 1985 who served for nine years and then turned the reins over to Preston Meador.

When local schools were integrated, beginning in 1967, the Fred Douglass building was used as an intermediate school for all students in the district. Elberta Street School was then used as a kindergarten.

In 1979 the Fred Douglass building burned and the North Jacksonville Improvement Committee took over the Elberta Street campus.

The name of Fred Douglass was not to be forgotten, however. In 1999, an elementary school on Hwy. 135 was designated Fred Douglass Elementary School.

In its long history, education for blacks in Jacksonville has produced doctors, lawyers, politicians, educators, businessmen, soldiers, and athletes. Responsible black students have always recognized that the best way to success is through education.

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