Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
first school for Negro children in Texarkana was the school
now known as Dunbar. It was first known as Central.
As the American custom of any permanent settlement, after a
sufficient number of settlers clustered together, the next
question in the minds of the people is the establishment of a
Around 1880, the Negro population in Texarkana, Texas was
centered around Oak and Elm Streets. There was an idea to
establish a school in that vicinity. Thus a school was
organized in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at Fourth and Elm
Streets with Professor Dilliard as principal. Mrs. Dilliard
was the assistant.
Through transit, the population grew so fast that school
authorities decided that it would be necessary to seek a
permanent site for the location of the school.
The site on 7th and Elm Streets was purchased by school
authorities and a two room school facing Sixth Street was
built with Professor Williams as principal. During his tenue
of office, the school received the name of Central because of
its central location. Along with Professor Williams, there
were a number of teachers who taught with him whose names no
longer can be recalled. It is understood that another
principal succeeded Professor Williams; however because there
were no records left, his name is unknown.
Finally a young man, Professor Spencer, full of engergy and
enthusiasm came from South Carolina. Under his leadership, the
school took on a new life, so much so, that a two story frame
building containing four rooms was built facing Sixth Street,
between Elm and the K.C.S. tracks.
Under the leadership of Professor Spencer, the following
teachers taught: Miss. Brown, who became Mrs. Spencer, Mrs.
Hattie Dawson and Mrs. Campbell. Later Miss. Fannie Lee of
Little Rock, Arkansas replaced Mrs. Campbell. Then came
Reverend and Mrs. A.M. Plant.
Professor Spencer taught for a number of years, but was
replaced by Professor W. T. Daniels for one year.
The following teachers taught during Professor Spencer's
second tenue: Mrs. Mary Spencer, Mrs. Hattie Dawson, Miss.
Fannie Lee, Miss. R. Webb and Miss. Eva Webb.
Professor Spencer Served until his health failed. After
Professor Spencer's tenue came Professor M.C. McCowan, under
whose tenue, the central brick building was built facing
Seventh Street. Those who taught under Professor McCowan were:
Mrs. Lula Long, Mrs. Jessie Johnson, Professor Jettie Weaver,
Mrs. Cora Jones, Miss. Susie Fridia and others.
Then in 1916, there came to Texarkana, Texas an educational
giant, Professor B.A. Jackson, who had received his basic
training from the public schools of Corsiana, Texas. He was a
graduate of Fisk University and had recently graduated from
Harvard University Law School. Professor Jackson had served as
Professor of Mathematics at Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas,
but resigned that position to accept the principalship of
Dunbar. He towered above all others as a school builder. It
was he who proposed the changing of the school's name from
Central, which was in conflict with the white school of this
vicinity, to Dunbar. This change was made around 1916.