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Artifacts of African-American education history presented today at NAACP


The history of Merry high school and African American education in Jackson will live on through some rare artifacts presented today to the Jackson branch of the NAACP.

“Present to Dr. Logan Hampton, a 1927 yearbook and a 1928 yearbook," said Reverand Doctor Leo Gray a 1968 graduate of the historically black - lane college.

Gray donated these Lane college yearbooks along with some other items representing the history of African American education in Jackson.

The city’s first black high school was named Merry high school in 1922, in honor of Austin Raymond Merry the school's first principal.

Merry's great-granddaughter Theresa Coleman attended today's ceremony at the Jackson-Madison county branch of the NAACP.

She said, "This is very special not only to our family but to history because we’re ever moving. Everyone wants to know where they came from… we will have children who can now look back at their great-great-grandparents with this documentation. If they come back to Jackson and say ‘oh there I was.’ it gives them a sense of identity.”

Merry high school eventually merged with the formerly all-white Jackson high school in 1970 to form Jackson-Central Merry high school.

Thembekila Chrystal Coleman Smart another granddaughter of merry was at the presentation, "The legacy of our family is something we are honored to carry the torch of."

Thembekila believes today's donation has a spiritual significance, "There's a scripture in the bible that we referred to often and that is ‘what mean these stones?’ and that was a place where they crossed over to new territory. These memorabilia can be referred to as stones, these are places where we crossed over.”

The sisters are now working on a book to immortalize their family’s history and their impact on the history of African American education here in Jackson and across the country.

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