ST. FRANCISVILLE — The now-closed J.S. Dawson High, a school that educated African Americans in West Feliciana during the days of segregation, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Tuesday, school Superintendent Hollis Milton presented Ken Dawson, the grandson of the school’s namesake, a certificate designating the school’s place on the National Register.
The presentation occurred at Tuesday’s West Feliciana School Board meeting, where Dawson spoke of the impact the school, located on Tunica Trace about 3.5 miles northwest of St. Francisville, had on a generation of black children in the tumultuous years prior to desegregation.
Closed since desegregation in 1969, the school is special to those who attended from 1951-1969.
It provided educational opportunities for African Americans in West Feliciana Parish and it was the first high school for African Americans in the parish.
The school is named for John S. Dawson, who came to the parish from Mississippi in 1890 and educated black children until his death in 1950.
His sons, John and Thomas, carried on the family’s dedication to education. Ken Dawson is the son of John Dawson.
“It speaks to me what really was accomplished and what happened in West Feliciana Parish,” said Ken Dawson, who is chairman of the J.S. Dawson Foundation.
“It’s an example of what can happen when people come together to inspire the next generation. It takes the whole community; he (John S. Dawson) wasn’t alone”
Ken Dawson said the foundation is recommitted to preparing the next generation to compete globally.
The board also heard a brief presentation from Parish President Kevin Couhig and Hospital CEO Lee Chastant, who discussed the four propositions on Saturday’s ballot.
Proposition Four is a 2-mill reallocation that would fund the construction and operation of a new recreation and aquatics center at the West Feliciana Sports Park and a Wellness Center to be built next to the new hospital.
“These projects are good for the parish and good for the school system and can add to the quality of life in an impactful way,” Couhig said.
The other three propositions are a 10-year, 0.5-mill property tax renewal for the parish hospital; a 10-year, 1-mill tax renewal for public health, animal and mosquito control, solid waste collection and disposal, and the Coroner’s Office; and a 10-year, 8.89-mill tax renewal for roads and bridges, public buildings, and parks and recreation.