Camden News Black History Moment: Lincoln High School, Camden's first African American public school

Photo contributed by the African American Historical Commission of Camden

Lincoln High School Tigers

Shown are the Lincoln High School Tigers, which, in 1969, became the first African American team to win the AA Division State Basketball Championship. The team was coached by Tyree Webster of Camden.
Photo contributed by the African American Historical Commission of Camden Lincoln High School Tigers Shown are the Lincoln High School Tigers, which, in 1969, became the first African American team to win the AA Division State Basketball Championship. The team was coached by Tyree Webster of Camden.

(Today's Camden News Black History Moment highlights Lincoln High School - the first African American public school in Camden.)

According to information provided by the African American Historical Commission of Camden, Lincoln High School "was constructed around 1870. It was established by the Freedman's Bureau and was known as the Freedman's School. It was located near what is now known as Center Street with Mr. Young as executive. The first principal was Mr. Cook, who, after an undetermined length of service, was succeeded by a Mrs. Miller.

"In the meantime, the school was named Camden High School and was moved to the vicinity of what is now Carter Avenue and Cannole Street. Reverend M. L. Beasley served as first principal. Professor A.B. Crump - who appropriately stressed agriculture and vocational education - succeeded him. The next principal, Professor F. H. Foster, promoted a similar emphasis during his tenure, 1915-1917. He was succeeded by Professor W.S. Williamson, who effectively perpetuated the school's progress from 1917-1925. At some point during this period the school was known as the Colored High School.

"Professor S.P. Nelson, the fifth principal, served one year, 1925-1926. His leadership was both profound and progressive, but he departed to serve as president of the Arkansas Baptist College. On the day of his departure, the entire student body gathered at the train station to bid him a tearful farewell. Professor R. V. Hanson, who headed the institution from 1926-1934, followed Mr. Nelson. The red brick building that now stands on the Vocational School Campus was constructed during is administration."

"In 1934, Mr. Nelson returned to serve for a second time as principal. By this time, the curriculum had grown and the fine arts, athletics and agriculture soared in the minds of the students and citizens of Camden.

"During the mid 1940's, Coach A.C. Carter discovered that the school did not have a name and fittingly came forward with the name Lincoln High School."

"Mr. Nelson retired in 1961 and Mr. G.S. Ivory became principal and served until the culmination of the predominately black school."