NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It may be hard to imagine a time when white and black children couldn't attend the same school, but now Nacogdoches residents are being reminded by a plaque dedicated to TJR Elementary in 1859 that dedicates education to only white children.
"It needs to be placed in a museum along all the other physical reminders of Jim Crow Laws, and then we can move forward as a society and talk about these issues with our children at appropriate times," said Jeri Mills a historian and writer who has lived in Nacogdoches for many years.
Questions remain about why the plaque was mysterious covered within the last twenty years. The specifics of who covered it is still unknown to Nacogdoches ISD representatives.
"At some point somebody drilled over the original sign without permission it, and we don't know why or who. There is no record of it happening, but someone did cover it with plywood," said Pam Fitch a member of the school board.
The plaque verbatim reads, 'Washington Square donated in 1859 for the education of white children'. It was on display for a brief time with another revised plaque donated in 1980 that reads 'for the education of all children'. Moving forward the school district must decide to display or remove the plaque.
"I think it has a place, it is history, that building was built for white children," Mills said. "So yes, it has a place, but not side by side even though it said all children, that was a different era."
Pam Fitch explained the school board has decided to refer back to the last on record school board meeting decision to allow the plaques, original and revised, to stand side by side.
"There has been an administrative decision made that is going to uphold the decision of the board that was made in the 80's, there was no authorization to cover it in the first place so this is simply fixing an error made," Fitch said.
Bealls gym, as of Tuesday, has not made that transition to displaying both plaques side by side, but Nacogdoches representatives tell us that this will happen in the near future.
The plaque will be placed on display for the public to see when the gym is being used for public recreational gatherings. NISD school board is also encouraging any feedback regarding their decision. Their next open school board meeting will be Tuesday, August 27th.