MADISON COUNTY (KFSM) – A black girl in Madison County was among the first in the state to go to a white school before it was legal to integrate.
“All at once there was just one child, one black child left in Madison County and that was Miss Laverne Cook. And it was not economically feasible to hire a teacher for just the one student,” said Madison County resident Kevin Hatfield.
This was in 1946, years before the supreme court decision ruling that outlawed segregation in schools.
Hatfield, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the history of education of Madison County, said the county and the teacher made the decision to allow Cook to attend the then all-white Lower Wharton Creek School.
“I asked him were there any problems, he said yes. He said students got into shoving matches as to who was going to get to sit with her. That she was a very bright and very popular young lady,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield said it's really no surprise because black families were really well thought of in Madison County.
“There was one doctrine even as I was a child in the 50's that we were taught...that you never look down on anyone. So, for the students of Wharton Creek Laverne Cook was just another person,” he said.
The school building still stands today, but now serves as a church to the small community.
Cook only attended the Madison County school for one year before her family decided to move into Washington County.