Howard School, Piedmont WV
Henry Louis Gates would have attended Howard School as a child had it not been for the board's decision to integrate facilities in 1955. He is pictured here accepting the Peabody Award
This school opened in 1877. In 1890, white students were assigned to a new school and this facility became known as the "Colored School." In 1912, it was named in honor of J. Howell Howard, the first Black principal of the school.
To learn more about the experience of African Americans in this part of West Virginia, click on the link below to learn more about this autobiography by Henry Louis Gates.
Backstory and Context
More information about Henry Louis Gates, Piedmont's most influential resident:
Gates was born in Piedmont in 1950, to Henry Louis Gates Sr. and Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates. He was one of the first African American students to attend the newly desegregated public schools in Piedmont following the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. Gates took interest local civil rights issues and with three other Black kids formed the Fearsome Four in which they pressured the Blue Jay restaurant and night club to integrate.
After graduating from high school with excellent grades from Piedmont High School, Gates attended Potomac State College in Keyser. He left Potomac State to study at Yale University and later earned a doctorate from England's Cambridge University. Gates served in the campaign of Jay Rockefeller in his unsuccessful bid against incumbent Governor Arch Moore in 1972. After the campaign effort Gates went on to work for the Time Magazine in London returning to Yale to teach Black studies and English. In the 1980s Gates taught at Cornell University.
In 1989 Gates was recognized as one of the leading scholars of the African American studies for his works in the book The Signifying Monkey: Toward a Theory of Afro- American Literary Criticism. In 1991 Gates was named to the chair of Harvard University's African Studies Department. In 1994 Gates' award winning book Colored People was published, which depicted his youth and the Black community in Piedmont.
Gates is on of the nations most highly touted Black scholars in the nation and has co-edited a series of critical perspectives on authors such as Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston.He is also the co-editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.