Temple mural unveiling Thursday|[05/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tillman Whitley has fond memories of Rosa A. Temple, the all-black segregated school from which he graduated in 1965, six years before the school changed its name to Vicksburg Junior High School and began to integrate white and black students.

That came 17 years after the landmark Supreme Court Case, Brown v. The Board of Education, which struck down “separate but equal” schooling.

But ever since the change, Whitley and his fellow Temple graduates have been trying to find ways to preserve the memory of their alma mater, which sent graduates to Harvard, among other great universities, and into an array of professions.

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Thursday, Whitley, a public school educator and curator of the Jacqueline House archive and museum of local African-American history, will share some of his memories, as well as the history of the school and the education leader for whom it was named, during the unveiling ceremony of a mural honoring the school on Baldwyn Ferry Road, now used as Vicksburg Junior High School.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. It means a lot,” Whitley said of seeing the school honored. “It’s been hard to preserve the history and memory of the school after the name changed. Now we know that the school is going to live on.”

If you goThe 26th completed riverfront mural on the city front floodwall will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Thursday. The mural depicts and honors the former Rosa A. Temple High School, an all-black, segregated school which held classes from 1959 through 1971 and is now Vicksburg Junior High School. The unveiling will feature Temple graduates, as well as guest speakers on the history of the school and Temple, a Vicksburg native who was involved in education her entire life.The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. at the City Front floodwall on Levee Street, and is free and open to the public.

The Rosa A. Temple High School mural is the 26th to be completed in Vicksburg since the first mural was unveiled in April 2002. A total of 32 are planned.

Nellie Caldwell, chairman for the Riverfront Mural Committee, said the majority of the $16,500 needed to complete the mural was donated by Temple graduates.

“The school is really in the hearts of the alumni,” she said. “They’ve worked hard to preserve the history of the school, and they want people to remember it.”

Along with Whitley, 15 other graduates will be at the unveiling, accompanied by Vicksburg Mayor Laurence Leyens and Aldermen Sid Beauman and Michael Mayfield.

Rosa A. Temple was born in Vicksburg in 1869, Whitley said, and was active in area schools and churches until her death in 1972, one year after the school integrated.