The Wilson School

Ringgold’s Story

The City of Ringgold has a rich history that attracts the attention of tourists and locals alike. The significant role Ringgold played in the United States Civil War is a well-known story amongst locals and is the focus of pamphlets, statues, and informational placards scattered throughout the town. These stories are so prevalent that separating them from the town's identity is almost impossible. However, the years-long conflict of the Civil War isn't the only story woven into the fabric of the City. Even a seemingly insignificant one-day event can become a powerful point of pride if someone tells the story in the right way to the right people. Just look at Dolly Parton, for example. She didn't grow up in Ringgold, didn't make her singing debut here, or even stay in town for a notable amount of time. She chose a church on Nashville Street to spend an hour exchanging nuptials, and because of that, she's become a bit of a hero to the town. Her likeness pops up in stores' merchandise, public murals, and City-wide events. Stories like that of General Cleburne and Dolly continue to be amplified, told again to each new generation, but what about the other stories? What about the voices yet to be given that level of time and attention? Are these stories somehow less important, impactful, or integral to Ringgold's identity?

For centuries, black voices have been silenced, and the impact they've had on our communities is often hidden away from the public eye. Ringgold is no different in that regard. We are a city filled with powerful black voices but have yet to put these voices and the stories they tell at the forefront of our history. The people, places, and events explored here are only a drop in the vast ocean of stories yet to be told, and we hope to continue to delve further into these depths as we move ahead together. We encourage everyone to join us on this journey as we explore the stories of two black men, born decades apart, both of whom worked to change the political landscape of Ringgold, the story of a black girl born into slavery who made Ringgold her home, and the story of basketball legend who came from humble beginnings. Before we begin these journeys, however, let's first examine the narrative of a small but mighty school that strove to educate people of color during the tumultuous times of desegregation in the South. 

The Wilson School

A small one-story brick building stands on the grounds of Ringgold High School. The building now serves as the location of the J.R.O.T.C. headquarters, but nearly seventy years ago, the building housed Catoosa County's only school for African American children, The Wilson School. Though a stone monument embossed in bronze now marks the location of the former school, before its erection in July of 2023, there was virtually no indication of the Wilson School's existence. The building's exterior looked just like that of its neighbors, bare and brick, and once you ventured inside, two lone shadow boxes provided the only clue as to the building's history. Protected behind a thin pane of glass lie an old basketball jersey, a tattered report card, and several black and white photos. These objects echo the story of the former Wilson School. They provide a mere glimpse at the journey that began nearly eight decades ago. For those who aren't already familiar with the school, these artifacts are but snapshots of a long and complicated history. Even after one attentively examines the carefully preserved contents of the shadow boxes, you're still left wondering how the Wilson School came to be, who helped shape the school, and who the people were that were shaped by it.

To help answer these questions, we must first go back 75 years to the humble beginnings of the Wilson School. The Georgia Department of Education first recorded the school in 1949, when it was documented as a two-teacher school and remained as such until at least 1952. Though the school was particularly small, at the time, it was the only school for African Americans in Catoosa County. What served as the Wilson school's building before its move onto the current-day Ringgold High campus was not described in the Catoosa County's state survey published in 1952. There isn't much history on the early stages of the school in the written record, but students who attended Wilson in later years recall what education for Black children was like at that time. According to them, Ringgold initially did what most other towns did: sent black students to neighboring cities to attend school. Jerry Jennings recounts that at some point, black children began to gather in a local man's house, known as "Bruce," to learn, which many remember was located on what was previously Short Street, now Paul Croft Way. Later, black students received their education at what was known as "Ringgold Center," located near present-day Ringgold High. Black students then attended what would eventually morph into the Wilson School, which records referred to as "The Ringgold Colored School." Finally, in 1953, Catoosa County announced plans for a new building, located where Ringgold High's J.R.O.T.C. headquarters is today, which would come to be known as the Wilson School. In 1955, Wilson finally opened its doors at this location and remained there until it closed. 

Though the exact date when the school adopted the Wilson name is unknown, as the history of black education was not well publicized in local papers during this period, it was documented for the first time by the Georgia Department of Education in the 1959-1960 school year. The first time the Catoosa County News referred to the school as the Wilson School was in 1956. The Wilson name comes from the school's benefactor, Ernest Wilson, who donated the property for the school to be built on so that African American children had a better place to learn. This school eventually became a haven for black children living in Ringgold at the time. 

The Wilson School brought together students of all ages from all over the area in one building. Some were born and raised in Ringgold, others came from right up the road in Boynton and Woodstation, and some were transplants from further reaches of Georgia like Gumbranch. Some students loved learning, while others preferred after-school sports to the typical school subjects. Some received their entire education at Wilson, while others only spent a few years there. They differed in nearly every way possible, but for all of them, one thing rings true: The Wilson School was a beacon of hope in a tumultuous time filled with darkness and hate.

It is crucial to know the atmosphere into which the Wilson School was born to understand how much it meant to those who attended. When the Wilson School found its permanent home in 1955, the Supreme Court had already ruled a year earlier in Brown Vs. Board of Education that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional. Despite the ruling, many parts of the South, including the State of Georgia and the Catoosa County school system, made no effort to obey the judicial command and instead hardened on their support for segregation and resisted any integration proposals. This massive resistance culminated in the Georgia General Assembly amending the State's constitution to force the Governor to interrupt any state funds going to integrated public schools. At this time, many African American teachers in the State were forced to leave the N.A.A.C.P. or face losing their teaching licenses. In his 1958 campaign for Georgia Governor, Ernest Vandiver promised to maintain segregation in public schools and only waivered in his promise when a U.S. District Judge ordered Atlanta's segregated public school system to integrate immediately. The Governor was then forced to revise Georgia's approach to "minimal compliance" instead of all-out "massive resistance," winning the Atlanta Board of Education a one-year delay from the district court implementing its integration plan. 

Vandiver also severed state funds to higher institutions of education, including the University of Georgia, after the school admitted two black students, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter. After the Governor had already delayed their admission for a year, the two students could finally register under a court order. Not two days after their enrollment, a white mob formed outside one of the students' dormitories, only dispersing after the implementation of tear gas. It wasn't until 1961 that the Georgia legislature revoked its school segregation law, and it took yet another decade for the State to implement the court-ordered desegregation plan. 

The Civil Rights Era in Ringgold

This turmoil was the political environment facing students of color in Ringgold at the time of the Wilson School's inception at its new location. However, many who lived in Ringgold during this time still paint the picture that Ringgold was somehow immune to this prejudice. When talking to townspeople about their recollection of the Civil Rights and Desegregation eras in Ringgold, comments on the subject ranged from "uneventful" to even "peaceful," but those that described this time in such a positive light were not the black students who faced the brunt of the backlash from this shift. If you ask attendees of the Wilson School the same question, you will get a very different answer. Ringgold, though tame in comparison to other Southern hotspots of racial violence like Montgomery, Alabama, or Little Rock, Arkansas, still faced its fair share of hate, bigotry, and brutality.  

Many children who attended Wilson grew up in an area of Ringgold known as "slab town." This community had few white residents and spanned across current-day Sparks Street, Guyler Street, High Street, and parts of Shady Lane. People often also referred to it as the "black neighborhood." Many of those who lived in Slabtown shared the fond memories they created there, like riding bikes up and down the streets or all joining together in Anna Ruth Green Montgomery's backyard to play basketball or shoot marbles. Unfortunately, the comradery they shared as neighbors couldn't protect them from the horrors of the outside world. Children were shot at with B.B. Guns if they veered too close to white neighborhoods. Worse still was the Ku Klux Klan, who drove up and down the streets of this area nearly every weekend, completing their route multiple times in an attempt to "keep black people in line." Ludie Croft Wymbs, who attended Wilson starting at age six, recalls the accordion-type of music the children heard coming from the approaching vehicles, which signaled the Klan's presence in their neighborhood and how her mother would tell her to cut off their lights and to stay quiet. She and Jerry Jennings, another of the Wilson School's students, remember the clouds of dust the Klan would kick up from the dirt roads as they trampled their way through the black neighborhood. It is clear that Ringgold was not immune to the aggression and prejudice sweeping the South. What was happening everywhere else, "Well, it was here," says Wymbs.  

Ringgold was, in fact, very similar to other towns during this time and had the same Jim Crow Laws in place. Black people could only drink from public water fountains designated as "colored," were forced to use back entrances to access necessities like groceries, and weren't allowed to go in many of Ringgold's restaurants, like Chow Time, for example. Other essential services, like healthcare from a doctor or dentist, were also affected by lines drawn around race. According to the former students, when visiting Dr. Williams and Dr. Cochran's medical office for care, whites enjoyed the comforts of a regular Doctor's office, while black patients were annexed to an area the size of a closet to wait without heat. Anna Ruth Montgomery recalls one of the ailments she had treated at that office, an ankle injury she received playing underneath a plum tree. She says her cut was "sewed up with cat guts' and that "you can still see the places where the stitches were." Other members of the group remember how some dentists would offer teeth pulling as the only form of treatment to black patients. Edna Harris Lumpkin said of her experience with the dentist, Dr. Shields, "That's why I don't have any teeth today. They'd just pull". 

Even events meant to provide a respite from their daily struggles, like going to the movies to see Godzilla or King Kong on a weekend, were still dampened with division. Jennings remembers the "RingGo" theater that used to be down by The Ringgold Depot. It had two doors; on one side was a door for whites, on the other a door for blacks, and while white attendees had access to the best seats, black patrons were sequestered to a viewing area upstairs. Though they faced this discrimination almost constantly, they didn't always stay silent about it. "I remember we used to take a Coca-Cola or some water. We'd take it and pour it down on the whites' heads," said Jennings. These instances of racial discrimination are just one of the many strokes that painted the background upon which The Wilson School lay, so it's easy to see just how essential it was to the livelihoods of its students. 

The "New" Wilson

In 1956, one year after the move to its new building, the school began to grow. In one of the first attempts at a thorough list of black schools during the 1956-1957 school year, the Georgia Department of Education noted that the Wilson school was now a three-teacher school and served as a 10-grade institution. According to former students, several grades would be taught by one teacher in a single classroom, meaning kids in first grade could be learning alongside children four or five years their senior. Restrictions to their education didn't stop with the limited number of teachers they were afforded; they were also denied access to the higher quality school supplies and tools their white counterparts had, like typewriters, new and up-to-date books, and other necessities. Despite these obstacles, however, the students unanimously agree that they got an education that laid a solid groundwork for their futures, thanks to their own dedication and determination as well as that of their teachers. Geneva Scoffield Owens, who attended other schools before landing at Wilson, says she learned more in her two years at Wilson than she did in all her other years elsewhere. The students agree that their teachers were the "good ones," and many still remember their names. Though, as with other schools, even those today, the children weren't the biggest fans of all their teachers. Just ask Edna Lumpkin, who remembers her teacher, Mr. Kelly, switching her with timetables in front of the class because she was slow at learning them. "I hated that man," she chuckled, recalling her time at the school.

Mostly, the students hold their teachers at the Wilson School in high regard. Many remember specific instances when their teachers went out of their way to try and make their education the best experience possible with their limited resources. For example, the "graduation" ceremonies the students had when passing on from one grade to the next. The teachers would try to make their students feel special in these instances and would, according to Jennings, give the students their report cards and have them leave their current classroom, walk outside, and then enter back into their new room to mark the beginning of a new year. This gave students a similar experience to that of others when graduating from elementary to middle school or middle to high school and entering an entirely different school building. "Like you did something big," Jennings says, "Make you feel good. They said, 'You passed to the sixth.' Now you in this one room, and now you get to go to the other room. That was something. You know, it made you feel good. We movin on up!" Other teachers went out of their way to introduce the students to extracurriculars like bowling, taking them up to a bowling alley in Chattanooga to learn, or ping pong, with a teacher starting a tournament at school for the kids to compete in. 

While these activities were a good way for Wilson's students to come together for fun outside of a classroom setting, they were also a point of pride for them. Jennings, for instance, remembers a gold trophy he received for winning 100 games of ping pong, an award he held onto for many years after Wilson. The school also had a boys' baseball and football team, though the girls said they played right alongside the boys during some of their practices. However, the girls' basketball team was the sport that garnered the most attention at the school. "We were good," says Green, "won all kinds of trophies and stuff in Ringgold." This success earned the recognition of some of the white people in town, who, according to Green and Wymbs, began treating them better once their team gained traction. These good graces didn't extend outside of town, as evidenced by their time playing in Lafayette. People began shaking the team's bus and ran them out of town all the way to the Moon Theater. "They were just mean to black people. They were just mean," says Green. The obstacles the team faced didn't stop with angry townspeople either. Much like the restrictions to their education, the children's sports were also restricted by the resources and facilities they were given. For instance, the area outside where they practiced and used for P.E. would turn to mud when it rained. Jennings remembers that C. Fred Williams, their superintendent, would dump a truckload of gravel into the muck to dry up the area and recalls thinking, "You can't bounce a basketball on gravel." Ludie Wymbs says, despite the poor facilities, "We were a good team! Lots of people weren't able to beat us."

Their excitement for endeavors outside the classroom didn't end with extracurriculars. Many of them share their love for the times they spent together during recess, playing in what they all lovingly called the "Cedars." This "playground" of sorts got its name because of the abundance of Cedar trees that grew in the area. As Wymbs tells it, on one side of the school, "There was a wheat and sage field, rabbit tobacco, persimmon trees," and on the other side, the Cedars. This area is where many of the students would gather to play. They'd roll tires across the ground, make their bikes sound like motorcycles by clamping their spokes with clothes pins, chase one another around, and makeshift their swings. "That's where we played at. It was ours," says Wymbs of the Cedars. 

Because of the lack of equipment they were given, the students had to get creative to keep themselves entertained. Green says they could turn something as simple as a box into an adventure, "We didn't have nothing. But, we'd find a box, and we'd play in the boxes rolling down the hill." Edna Lumpkin remembers how she and a classmate, Alma Jean Christopher, would chase one another around and how, in an attempt to keep up with Edna, Alma would grab at the ties on the back of her dress, nearly tearing her dresses off, much to the disapproval of her mother. "It was fun at Wilson. We had some good times," says Lumpkin. "We had a good time. We thought that's how all kids played," says Green. They'd also use their hideaway to get a glimpse of what was going on at the other school, watching the white children from their spot as they played in their own fields, and on occasion, they'd spot the white children doing the same, peeking through the bushes watching as the Wilson students played. 

Though sports and extracurriculars were a highlight of their time at Wilson, the students still got into the same type of shenanigans as any other kids their age. The students fondly remember more dubious times at the school, like smoking the rabbit tobacco that grew outside of school, sneaking in after hours for extra practice, or stealing some ice cream sandwiches. "A lot of times, we used to slip through the windows at Wilson," says Jennings. Jesting that the students would call to one another during these after-hours excursions, "Is it open? Leave the window open," and then, "We slipped through the window and unlock the door and go in there and play. You know, cuz the police wouldn't gonna come around." In the same spirit, Green remembers that you could always get in through the bathroom because she would sneak in through the bathroom window and get ice cream from the freezer in the kitchen, which she would then throw up on the roof before divvying her hall amongst her classmates. "That's why a lock was put on it (the freezer)," jokes her classmates. Green also remembers the tents they pitched up in the Cedar trees, a boy's tent and a girl's tent, and how they accidentally "burned 'em all down." "That was our fun," says Wymbs.

By 1957, the educational directory upgraded Wilson to 12 grades for the 1957-1958 school year, and according to the Georgia Interscholastic Association records in 1959-1960, the average daily attendance for Wilson at the High school level was 17. The educational directory for the school wasn't updated again until the 1965-1966 school year when it was then listed as having four teachers. It is also interesting to note that despite the semi-consistent updates to the school's grade and teacher count, The Georgia Department of Education does not list Catoosa County as having a black school in its 1961-1962 publication. The Wilson school had one of the smallest average daily attendances of any public school in the Georgia Interscholastic Association's regional lists. Its small class size and the common practice of bussing black populations to neighboring districts, which many counties still observed at the time, made the existence of the Wilson School all that more remarkable. Unlike Ringgold, other counties with smaller black populations had no such school. Take Murray County, for instance; instead of having a school dedicated to teaching its black students, it sent its population of black high schoolers to Emery Street in Dalton. 


It's easy to forget the civil unrest of the time when hearing the joyous moments the students had at the Wilson School, but as time inched slowly forward and integration became inevitable, this unrest climaxed into an unignorable force. In 1965, school officials gave the children at Wilson a decision: They could stay at their school for a final year or integrate into the Ringgold School System now. As Jennings says, their superintendent, C. Fred Williams, came to the school that year "sweating" because he knew the schools were about to integrate and would have to relay that information to the students. Along with the decision he presented to them, he also warned them to be wary of some of their new classmates. He told the students to be prepared, that some of those who live further out "in the country" would likely hurl racial epithets their way when they arrived at their new school. 

Unfortunately, as Williams predicted, the transition from segregation to integration wasn't all smooth sailing. By 1967, integration was mandatory, and the Wilson School had to close its doors. Georgia Interscholastic Association records confirmed this closure, as the school was not listed in its 1966-1967 directory. For the students, the closure was heartbreaking. Wilson had served as a respite from the hate and discrimination they received in their everyday lives. According to them, Wilson taught them what community was. "We stuck together," says Evelyn Readus. Green agrees, "It taught us how to be a family, how to depend on someone if you needed something because someone was always there. Everybody cared about everybody." Because of the deep bonds they had formed at the school, they felt an immense loss at having to leave that all behind. The escape they once had would no longer exist at their new schools, and the children knew it. "Imagine what that did to the kids, taking it away from them. They took everything we had," says Wymbs. Now, the students would endure discrimination inside and outside of their classrooms. The place they once considered a safe haven was about to be full of conflict, with their white counterparts inflicting ill behavior ranging from teasing to physical attacks. 

Many who left Wilson the first year said they did so at the behest of their parents, who believed the students would have better opportunities at their new school. Despite not wanting to leave their classmates behind, they felt they were paving the way for them to join them the following year. Eventually, the number of Wilson School alums grew at their new school, but as the students were separated from one another within their new classes, they had to face discrimination mostly alone. Florence Harris remembers the isolation and the bullying she had to face now that she was on her own, "They'd touch you like you was nasty, and you're just sitting there. It was a lot, you know." Some of their white counterparts ignored them as if they didn't exist, while others would pull at their hair and clothes as they walked the halls. "They'd look at you like you was dogs, and walk behind you and pull your hair and pull your clothes. It was terrible," says Greene of her time at her new school. Jennings says the warnings he received from C. Fred ended up being accurate, with his peers calling him and the others ni***rs. "They wanted to challenge you," he says, and "when they used the N-word, it was a fight. He (C. Fred) got us ready so that when we went to Ringgold, we're gonna stick together." Green remembers that she, too, would get into trouble with her peers when such behaviors arose and was frequently sent home for standing up to them. 

If any of their classmates did show them kindness, they, too, were met with ridicule. When one student raised their hand to volunteer to help Jerry get his books, the rest of the class jeered and yelled at the student to put their hand down. In a separate instance, when Florence Harris didn't have money to purchase an ice cream alongside all her classmates, a young boy bought one for her and was "given heck" for it and called "nasty." She says, "It was horrible." Those small acts of kindness didn't go unnoticed by the former Wilson students, however, and many of them say they're still friends with those who reached out a helpful hand during the transition at their new school.  

For all the ridicule and backlash they faced integrating into the Ringgold School system, many feel as if their education did not improve. The students remember how they all worked together as a class at Wilson to solve problems, but at Ringgold, they just took notes alone while the teachers did all the talking. In the new schools, only a few teachers tried to make them feel comfortable, but many more looked at them "sideways," recalls Greene. They lost the community they had built at their former school, and though the children now had access to new books and typewriters, they didn't feel that their education was any better. The Wilson school had given them just as good an education but with far fewer resources, a testament to the dedication of their former teachers and the students' resiliency. 

Post Integration

Though years passed, and tides slowly shifted towards progress, racial disparities and tensions weren't eliminated. Black people still faced prejudice from their white neighbors in Ringgold. Edna Lumpkin recalls one such instance when her husband, who drove a white Corvette, started being followed by police in the area. Her father, one of the only black police officers and one of the only people the group expresses they could trust, stepped in when he became aware of the behavior, telling the officers that Edna's husband worked hard for his car and they weren't to bother him any longer. Soon after, the harassment stopped. Even after the "white only" signs came down around town, many black people still knew they weren't welcome in certain businesses. If they were brave enough to venture inside, other customers and employees would look at them like they didn't belong, as if they were saying, "What are you doing in here?" says Lumpkin. 

Several Wilson alums say M.L.K. Jr. Day wasn't honored in Catoosa County until recently. The day, an important day for African Americans, marks the birthday of King and celebrates the chief spokesperson for his nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement. Retta Harris recalls that her Aunt, Ruby Adams Johnson, fought to have the day respected as a holiday in Catoosa. At the time, people were still forced to attend school and work on the holiday, so Ruby urged everyone to stay home in protest. After petitioning her community to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, officials finally dismissed schools for the day, but now, instead of being called by its former title, it was referred to as "In-Service Day." This name change was yet another slight. 

Today, many still feel the hurtful remnants of that period of history. The former Wilson students express how they still feel unwelcome in many parts of Ringgold. For instance, going inside restaurants they weren't allowed to frequent reminds them too much of the cruelty they once faced. So, instead of enjoying a meal inside, they only get takeout. Monuments, flags, and placards celebrating the confederacy, along with events like 1890 Days, both of which highlight a time when black people faced extreme violence and racism, make them feel undesired in their own City. "Me, for one, I hardly ever go down to Ringgold. There's nothing in Ringgold I want to see because we weren't welcome in Downtown Ringgold. So, 1890s, no, no, no, no, I don't go to 1890 Days." Places like the Depot, which has served as a central gathering place for many, feel off-limits to some former students. "They say you can come in, but then they had all that Confederate stuff hanging up in there." 

Many have given up on receiving closure over the wrongdoings they suffered. With most perpetrators aging up and passing away, the chance for justice is slipping away. "It's just something that sticks in your head, how you were treated back then. You never got an apology for it because those people are all dead. All of the older folks who did that to us are dead, and I can't hold it against the younger kids that's come along because they were taught to be that way," Wymbs went on to say. After the decades of injustice they endured at the hands of neighbors and officials alike, they have come to expect a lack of accountability. As one of the former students says, "They sweep it under the rug. Don't even put it on the back burner; just sweep it under the rug. That's the story of Ringgold." Though it may feel like too much time has passed to make amends for some, Green says, "It ain't ever too late." Others in the group echo this sentiment and feel that steps can be taken to make what happened to them right so that it's possible to heal and move forward.

Looking to the future

Forward is where many of the Wilson School Alumni are looking now. With a new generation comes a renewed hope for change. "Children now, they don't see color. They don't see nothing. It's a different generation that's coming behind us." Many former students now have multiracial families of their own, and they share the joys of seeing them grow up in a more accepting community than the one they experienced as children. Anna says she's still surprised when someone comments on how beautiful her granddaughter's hair is. People have asked her for advice on how to style their own interracial child's hair, which would have never happened until recently. "They have a pure heart. They don't know the stuff that went on back then, so they can love each other. They haven't been taught to hate." Lumpkin says of the younger people. 

For the former students, it's crucial that this generation knows about their experiences at the Wilson School and in Ringgold during the Civil Rights era.  "Everybody from Ringgold is dead who knows what happened. The younger people don't know," says Wymbs, who also expressed how thankful she was for the Wilson School during that time. "Thank the Lord Wilson was good to us. It was good for us. It laid the foundation for all of us." Just as the Wilson School laid the foundation for them, their stories will help lay the foundation for future generations. 

In the years that have passed since the closure of the Wilson School, the political landscape surrounding the public education of Georgia children has shifted toward equality. Ringgold High has grown around the old Wilson School building, and though the school system no longer needed the building for its initial purpose, they found another use. Now, Ringgold High utilizes the building as the J.R.O.T.C. headquarters. A single school department fits into what used to be an entire 1-12 grade school some 70 years ago. Standing the tests of time, political turmoil, and even the devasting 2011 tornado that significantly damaged the neighboring Ringgold high and middle schools, The Wilson School remains unscathed and untouched. Perhaps a testament to the strength of the people who started the school and those who graced its halls, the Wilson School building still stands strong and proud and will likely stay this way even long after we are all gone. Lumpkin had this to say of the spirit of the Wilson Students, "Oh how we overcome," and overcome they did. 

The story of the Wilson School, though long and complicated, is summed up by Jennings in one word: love. "The whole key is love. L.O.V.E. It's love. Gotta spread love. Gotta have love." So, as we continue to learn and grow together, we encourage Ringgold to spread a little love. Take care of your neighbors. Stand up for each other. Spread the love.


There is much more to be told about the Wilson school and those who attended it, but information about this subject is scarce. If you or someone you know has further information about the school, including any personal recounting of their time there, we encourage you to come forward with your story. As we continue to learn and grow together, we wish to expand upon this story and others like it so that our community can learn more about the lives and contributions African Americans have made and continue to make here in Ringgold.

We thank Jerry Jennings, Ludie Croft Wymbs, Anna Ruth Green Montgomery, Evelyn Harris Readus, Geneva Scoffield Owens, Edna Harris Lumpkin, and Retta Harris for sharing their stories. Other crucial information on the Wilson School and the Civil Rights Era was gathered from the sources listed below. 

The Catoosa County Historical Society

The Georgia Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Right

The Library of Congress

School Stories