John J. Jefferson graduate wants to shed light on black history in Columbia

John J. Jefferson graduate wants to shed light on black history in Columbia

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - James Wilson said that children today are missing so much, especially when it comes to their history.

Columbia community members want generations after them to know their history, and a 1969 graduate of John J. Jefferson School is part of their story.

Wilson was one of many students that graduated in the last class at John J. Jefferson School before integration. He said staying in the books will helps kids know their history.

“Education is going to take them through life,” said Wilson.

Wilson said that yearbooks of his class cannot be found to show the history before 1969 of him and his classmates.

“Because that’s the history that they wanted us to know, we had to know where we came from,” said Wilson.

WDAM went to take a look inside the Charlotte Watts Pennell Genealogy room at the Columbia Library and we found no hard copy of the 1969 graduates. We also visited the Jefferson Middle School, which is where John J. Jefferson High School was located.

Jefferson Middle School Principal Levi Robinson said that the school’s library does not carry anything highlighting the 1969 John J. Jefferson class.

“It’s very important, especially being African-American students, to know their history where they come from,” said Robinson.

But, Robinson said that he plans to find out more information on the class for the students.

Even though there is no word on a hard copy for students to view past classes before them, eighth grade social studies teacher Trent Pittman said he tries his best to teach what he can.

“I go over there and I teach that, but I want to bring something to life that’s right here, right now. Something that is much more hands-on for them and goal oriented,” said Pittman.

“What I try to do is pull the past into the present and show them that connection and how far we’ve come," he added.

Copyright 2019 WDAM. All rights reserved.