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Secret School Preserved In Chickasha

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Gan Matthews, News 9

CHICKASHA, Oklahoma -- A century ago a small building now in Chickasha was located in Verden. It was a school, a separate school. In fact, it was a secret school.

Loretta Jackson likes to bring her great grandchildren here to learn what the past was like.

In 1910 she says education was not only segregated, but educating black children had to be kept secret.

"At that point in time, in history, blacks were not supposed to learn to read and write. Can't read and write," she said.

That's hard for her great grandchildren to grasp.

"I think it wasn't right for the blacks. It wasn't right," said Devin Stubbs, Jackson's great grandson.

"I would think that was absurd," said Deja Stubbs, Jackson's great granddaughter.

The Verden School survived till the 1930s.

Ninety-four-year-old Janie Roberts may be the only surviving student.

"Well, it was all right, I guess. I have to think about it for a while. But we had to walk to school, oh, several miles," she said.

In 2004 the old schoolhouse was moved from Verden to Chickasha. There are plans to develop it into a museum and an educational facility with a story to tell.

"We will tell the story of early education and how this transpired for African-Americans… from a one-room school then to the present time," Jackson said.

It will take time, and it will take money--about $300,000--but someday the Verden schoolhouse will be a school again--separate, no more; secret, no more.

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