Invisible History: A Slave, a School and a Scholar

Saturday, January 14th in the Historic Cass County Courtroom at the Linden Heritage Foundation Martin Luther King Day Celebration the curtains were drawn back to shine a light on parts of Linden’s past and present.

Keynote speaker, 1973 LK High Graduate Mason Barrett, chose as his topic – “Invisible History: A Slave, a School and a Scholar”.  

Honorable Mason Barrett with Cass County Judge, Travis Ransom, LHF President Sam Higdon and the speaker’s son, Alonzo Barrett (photo by Neil Abeles)

Judge Barrett received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Prairie View A&M University. He has over 35 years’ experience in civil rights and equal employment opportunity (EEO) law. On October 1, 2018, he was elevated to the position of Supervisory Administrative Judge in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) Birmingham District Office where he now supervises three (3) judges. His office’s jurisdiction includes the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and the northern panhandle of Florida.  Following in the footsteps of his parents, M. J. Barrett, and Audrey Mae Barrett, each an educator, Judge Barrett has formed The Bar Examination Academy to assist law students in studying for the bar examination. Locally, he is the Project Director for the Macedonia Rock School Preservation Project and a board member of the Fairview Junior-Senior High School Reunion Corporation and the Linden Cemetery Association.

“I am 126 years old. I have kept the faith & yield my soul to God and go home”

A Slave – Nancy Carter (Appx. 1785 – October 11, 1910)

Old Pleasant Hill (African American) (Linden) Cemetery – “In 1785, when the United States was a mere nine years old, a woman was born somewhere on the great continent of Africa. Her name would eventually become Nancy Carter.  In 1802 she was brought to the United States as a slave and sold to one Absolam Carter Sr. in Greenville, Alabama. Upon his death, Absolam Carter Jr. inherited her and moved to Cass County in 1854 just two years after Linden was established and became the county seat. This remarkable woman, who was brought to this country as a slave, would live to see the end of slavery.”  WAS CASS COUNTY HOME TO THE OLDEST WOMAN?  By Jamie Jeans – Crossroads Magazine.  Several of Mrs. Carter’s many living descendants were present at the meeting to include former Linden-Kildare (L-K) High School Home Economics teacher Mrs. Mary L. Shurn, retired nurse Carolyn Allen Craver (L-K 1970), and retired educator Linda D. Allen (L-K 1972).  Mrs. Carter also has many descendants who have served our country, including the late Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Deacon Adrain Allen (U.S. Navy), the late Macedonia Baptist Church Deacon George “Buddy” Allen (U.S. Army), and the late Master Chief Petty Officer Billy W. Allen (L-K 1971) (U.S. Navy).

Photo from Mason Barrett

A School – Macedonia Rosenwald School Campus

Little more than a century ago, deep in America’s rural South, a community-based movement ignited by two unexpected collaborators quietly grew to become so transformative, its influence shaped the educational and economic future of an entire generation of African American families. Between 1917 and 1932, nearly 5,000 rural schoolhouses, modest one-, two-, three-, and four-teacher buildings known as Rosenwald Schools, came to exclusively serve more than 700,000 African American children over four decades.  In 1926, a Rosenwald wood frame school was built in the Macedonia Community in west Linden.  The original Macedonia Rosenwald building ultimately was moved and became the band hall at the new Linden-Kildare High School campus located on F.M. 125 South after consolidation of the Linden and Kildare school districts in 1958.  In 1939, an additional building was constructed on the Macedonia Rosenwald campus of local iron ore rock which still stands and is in use to this day. Known as the Macedonia Rock School, it has been named by Preservation Texas as one of eleven rural African American heritage sites being provided reimbursement grant funding for needed improvements to ensure its survival.

Photo by University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas.

A Scholar Dr. Arcelia M. Johnson-Fannin

Dr. Johnson-Fannin, affectionately known to her students and colleagues as “Dr. J”, was the 1964 Valedictorian of Fairview High School (FHS) and a former student of the Macedonia Rock School, Linden, Texas.  Dr. J grew up in a community that was poor in funds but rich in education, the power of positive thinking, and reaching for greatness. With the Grace of God, great things she has done. Dr. J is the founding Dean of the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. With this appointment, she became the first woman and only African American female to be founding dean at two new pharmacy schools. In 1997, Dr. J was selected to head the development of the pharmacy program at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.  The last FHS building and campus was constructed during segregation simultaneously (circa 1959-1960) with the Linden-Kildare High School.  Located on U.S. Hwy 59 South, the former FHS is now named the Mae Luster Stephens Junior High School after another prominent Linden African American educator.


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