Crispus Attucks High School
|Crispus Attucks High School|
1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Street
|Type||Public high school|
|School district||Indianapolis Public Schools|
Crispus Attucks High School
Front and southern side of the school
|Location||1140 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA|
|Architect||Harrison & Turnock; Brown & Mick|
|Architectural style||Collegiate Gothic/Tudor Revival|
|NRHP reference No.||88003043|
|Added to NRHP||January 04, 1989|
Crispus Attucks High School (also known as Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School) of the Indianapolis Public Schools in Indianapolis, in the U.S. state of Indiana is named for Crispus Attucks (c.1723 – March 5, 1770), an American patriot killed during what became known as the Boston Massacre. The school was built near Indiana Avenue (the business and cultural hub of the city's African American community) northwest of downtown Indianapolis and opened on September 12, 1927, when it was the only public high school in the city designated specifically for African Americans. Despite the passage of federal and state school desegregation laws, Attucks was the city's only high school with a single-race student body in 1953, largely due to residential segregation, and remained a segregated school until in 1971 (although some historians suggested that it occurred in 1968). Attucks was converted to a junior high school in 1986, due to declining enrollment, and a middle school in 1993. It became a medical magnet high school in 2006, partially due to the school's proximity to the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine and its associated hospitals.
The red-brick building with terra-cotta and limestone detailing covers a two-square-block area and was built in three phases. A three-story main building, designed by local architects Merritt Harrison and Llewellyn A. Turnock, was constructed in 1927. A three-story addition and a two-story gymnasium were built in 1938. A newer, two-story gymnasium was constructed in 1966. The main building and the 1938 addition reflect Collegiate Gothic (or Tudor Revival) and Classical Revival styles of architecture. The high school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. During its early years, Attucks was known for its excellent in academics, in addition to its successful athletic teams, especially its basketball program. The high school also became a gathering place and a source of pride for the city's African American community. In 1955 the Attucks Tigers won the Indiana High School Athletic Association's state basketball championship, becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title. In 1956 the team became first state champions in IHSAA history to complete a season undefeated since the state basketball tournament began in 1911. Attucks also won the IHSAA state basketball championship in 1959, and in 2017 was the IHSAA's Class 3-A basketball champion.
Indianapolis was largely segregated city in the early twentieth century, although three of its public high schools enrolled black students: Emmerich Manual High School, Arsenal Technical High School, and Shortridge High School. Overcrowding, especially at Shortridge, led Indianapolis Public Schools' board members to begin discussions on construction of a new high school. In 1922, as interest in building an all-black public high school increased, the IPS board decided to pursue the idea and began to move ahead with its plans.
Some white residents of the city, not wanting their children to attend an integrated high school, urged the school board to build a new public high school specifically for African-American students. However, some African Americans in the community adamantly opposed the establishment of an all-black high school and preferred an integrated public school system. Despite the differing viewpoints, the IPS board decided that all of the city's African American high school students would attend the new school.
Crispus Attucks High School was built northwest of downtown Indianapolis, in the area that was known as the Bottoms, near the city's Central Canal and Indiana Avenue, which was the African American community's business and cultural hub. The Bottoms was also the largest and best-known area of the city's African American community.
The IPS board initially chose Thomas Jefferson High School as the name for the new school, but some members of the community objected to the choice and circulated petitions to have the name changed to Crispus Attucks High School. The school board reversed its decision and named the school in honor of Crispus Attucks, an American patriot. His ethnicity is now uncertain, but at the time the new school was named it was believed he was a black man who was killed in the attack on British soldiers in Boston, Massachusetts, in March 1770 during what became known as the Boston Massacre.
All the African American teenagers enrolled at the city's other public high schools such as Arsenal Technical High School, Washington High School, and Shortridge High School were moved to Crispus Attucks when it opened in 1927 with the promise that the Attucks students would receive a "separate but equal" education. After Attucks opened, IPS administrators did not permit African-American students to attend any other public high school in the city until integration of the schools was mandated by law. Community activists who opposed the decision challenged the local school board through the legal justice system, but efforts to desegregate the city's schools continued for several decades after the school opened.
Students and faculty
In addition to its students, Attucks's first principal, Matthias Nolcox, and its initial faculty were African Americans, making it the only all-black high school in Indianapolis. Nolcox recruited well-educated teachers for the new school from the traditionally black colleges in the South, as well as from high schools in other areas of the country. While black students were allowed to attend colleges and universities, the schools of higher learning did not hire black educators for their faculties leaving a large group of over-qualified teachers forced to teach at the high-school level.
Indianapolis's new high school was originally planned for 1,000 students; however, the estimate soon increased to 1,200 students, requiring Nolcox to hire additional staff to accommodate the projected increase in enrollment. The three-story, red brick school opened on September 12, 1927, with forty-two faculty and 1,345 students. Formal dedication ceremonies took place on October 28, 1927. After Attucks, Indiana had had two other all-black public high schools opened in the state: Gary's Roosevelt High School and Evansville's Lincoln High School.
From the beginning, overcrowding was a persistent problem at Attucks. The IPS board authorized the remodeling of IPS Number 17, a school building adjacent to Attucks, to house the overflow of students. Nolcox served as principal of both facilities. Thomas J. Anderson replaced Nolcox as the school's second principal from July to September 1930. An interim principal briefly assumed Anderson's duties until Russell A. Lane, who was hired as one of the school's original English teachers, was named the new principal later that fall.
Lane continued to hire well-educated faculty for the school. At a time when most other high schools in the city had teachers with undergraduate bachelor's degrees, several of Attucks's teachers had master's degrees or PhDs. During these early years, Attucks's percentage of teachers with advanced degrees was higher than any other school in the area. By 1934 Attucks had sixty-two faculty members; seventeen of them had master's degrees and two had doctorate degrees. In 1935–36, the school had grown to include sixty-eight faculty and 2,327 students. A freshman center was added to the high school in 1938 to assist with the overcrowded conditions.
Curriculum and events
Attucks offered an extensive curriculum, including general education courses such as math, sciences, language arts, art, music, physical education, as well as home economics and industrial arts courses to provide vocational training. Because of its faculty and varied curriculum, Attucks became known for its excellence in academics, in addition to its successful athletic programs.
The Indianapolis Recorder, the local newspaper for the African American community, publicized school events, which helped to bring Attucks's various activities to the public's attention. The school became a gathering place and a source of pride for the city's African American community. The school's athletic teams, especially its basketball program, "represented the African American community in Indianapolis."
To encourage the students and show support for the school, several celebrities made visits to the school and addressed gatherings of the student body. Notable visitors included Jesse Owens, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, George Washington Carver, and Floyd Patterson, as well as other notable athletes, authors, scientists, politicians, and civil rights activists who came to the city to speak the previous Sunday at the nearby Senate Avenue Young Men's Christian Association's speakers' series, called "Monster Meetings".
1940s and 1950s
Desegregation of the city's schools became a major issue in the late 1940s and during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the state legislature's passage of mandatory desegregation laws in 1949, the IPS board approved a gradual desegregation plan and Attucks remained an all-black high school, largely due to residential segregation. During this period the high school's enrollment began to decline from 2,364 students in 1949 to 1,612 in 1953. Attucks had two white educators on its faculty in 1956 and continued to remain the only "high school in the city with a single-race student body."
1950s basketball team state championships
The Indiana High School Athletic Association, the governing body for athletic teams in the state, refused full membership to private, parochial, and all-black high schools until 1942, when full membership opened to include all of the state's three- and four-year high schools. The change in membership allowed Attucks and the state's other all-black high schools, as well as Indiana's Catholic high schools to participate for the first time in IHSAA-sanctioned basketball tournaments. Attucks had good success in basketball during the 1950s producing two Indiana Mr. Basketballs: Hallie Bryant and Oscar Robertson. In addition to Bryant and Robertson, several other Attucks players and coaches have been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Attucks Tigers made it to the IHSAA state basketball championship game for the first time in 1951, but lost to Evansville's Reitz High School, 66–59. On March 19, 1955, the Attucks team, led by future professional star and National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, won the IHSAA's state championship, beating Gary's Roosevelt High School, 97–64, and becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title. Robertson led Attucks to another championship in 1956, beating Lafayette's Jefferson High School, 79–57, and becoming the first state champion team in IHSAA history to complete a season undefeated since the state tournament began in 1911. The Attucks Tigers won its third IHSAA state basketball championship in 1959. Because the school's black student athletes played and won contests with predominately white teams, historians have pointed out that Attucks's successful basketball program also "mobilize the black community" and served as "role models for black youths".
By the 1960s Indianapolis's racial and class segregation lead to changes at AttucksAs the city's black middle class moved to other neighborhoods, some of their children were enrolled at Shortridge and Arsenal Tech high schools, while the children of poorer African Americans continued to attend Attucks. In addition, the IPS board continued to ignore the federal government's suggestions for integration of its schools. In 1970 U.S. District Court Judge Hugh S. Dillin "found IPS guilty of operating a segregated school system." Although IPS opened an integrated secondary campus on Cold Springs Road in 1970 to help ease some of the overcrowding at Attucks, the main high school building remained a segregated school while appeals of the federal court's decision continued. As a result of the lengthy appeals process, sources indicate that it is difficult to specify an exact date for Attucks's formal desegregation. School historians believe that the first white students enrolled at Attucks's main campus in 1971, although others have suggested that it occurred in 1968.
In 1981, IPS administrators considered closing the high school due to rapidly declining enrollment. Attucks's student body was 973 in 1980, but enrollment had fallen to 885 in 1985. Although many opposed the idea, Attucks was converted from a high school to a junior high school in 1986, and became a middle school in 1993. The building was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 and the Indiana Historical Bureau erected a state historical marker at the school in 1992.
Attucks reverted to a high school in 2006, when IPS superintendent Eugene White announced the formation of the Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet, changing the school from a middle school to a medical preparatory school for grades 6–12. The designation as a medical magnet school is partially due to the school's proximity to the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine and its associated hospitals. The change was made by adding one grade each year. The magnet school's first class graduated in 2010; its first class to complete the full medical magnet program graduated in 2013. Attucks restored its basketball program in 2008 as an IHSAA Class 3-A school. The team won the Class 3-A title on March 25, 2017, its first state basketball championship since 1959.
The school covers a two-square-block area and was built in three phases: a three-story, flat-roofed main building with an E-shaped plan on the east, constructed in 1927; a three-story addition to the west of the main building and a two-story gymnasium, built in 1938; and a newer, two-story gymnasium constructed in 1966. The main building, designed by local architects Merritt Harrison and Llewellyn A. Turnock, as well as the 1938 addition, reflect Collegiate Gothic (or Tudor Revival) and Classical Revival styles of architecture. The main building is constructed primarily of red brick and includes buff-colored glazed terra-cotta detailing. The red-brick addition built in 1938 has similar architectural detailing but uses limestone instead of terra cotta. The newer red-brick gymnasium built in 1966 has concrete vertical and horizontal bands.
The main façade, facing east, dates to 1927 and has a center section and nearly identical projecting sections at each end. The center section's one-story entrance foyer has three pairs of entry doors with fanlights and a terra-cotta belt-course separating a terra-cotta balustrade, above, from a round-arched, terra-cotta arcade, below. Each of center section's two upper stories contain panels with terra-cotta detailing around a grouping of three windows. Terra-cotta panels on the second include a lyre, laurel leaves, and violins in bas relief. Terra-cotta panels above the third-floor windows contain the words "Attucks High School" inscribed in Old English typeface. Windows along the main façade are grouped in threes (a pair of smaller windows on either side of a double window). A belt-course runs across the entire main façade above the first-floor lintels and windows. Upper-story windows have terra-cotta molding above the lintels and windows.
The north façade shows the original, three-story section on the east with two wings flanking a center section. There are entrances in each wing and nine windows on each floor of the center section. The two upper stories of the original building have windows set in three terra-cotta panels. Oil lamps and other decorations in bas relief decorate the panels separating the first and second floors. Each story of the 1938 red-brick and limestone addition has four groupings of windows, each one with four windows, and limestone details. The three-story addition rests on a limestone foundation. The two-story gymnasium, built to the west of the 1938 addition, has an entry framed with a limestone arch. The word "Gymnasium" is inscribed in Old English typeface on a stone tablet above the arch. A newer gymnasium, constructed of brick with concrete bands, was added to the west of the older gymnasium in 1966. The main entrance to the new gymnasium is on the north side. A side entry is on the building's south elevation. The south façade contains the main building constructed in 1927 (similar in appearance to the north façade) and a one-story greenhouse, also original to the building. Interconnected additions on the south façade include the 1938 addition, service areas, and loading docks constructed at various times. There is also a five-story, red-brick smokestack.
The original 1927 school building has classrooms double-loaded corridors arranged in a square around the auditorium. Notable features of the original interior include the main entry foyer with its terrazzo floors and a triple-arched arcade with terra-cotta columns. The plastered ceilings of the foyer and auditorium have exposed beams. The Crispus Attucks museum was also established in another section of the building.
- David Baker–jazz musician, composer, professor of music at Indiana University Bloomington, and founder and chair of IU's jazz studies program from 1968 to 2013.
- Angela Brown–dramatic soprano
- Harry W. Brooks Jr.–Major General, U.S. Army
- Hallie Bryant–former Harlem Globetrotter; Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1983)
- Julia Carson–member of the United States House of Representatives (1997–2007)
- Bobby Edmonds–member of Indiana Pacers (1969–70)
- Harriette Bailey Conn–attorney and former state public defender in Indiana
- "Wee" Willie Gardner–former Harlem Globetrotter; Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1986)
- J. J. Johnson–jazz great (trombonist) and composer
- Janet Langhart-Cohen–writer
- Wes Montgomery–jazz guitarist
- Paul Parks–Massachusetts Secretary of Education
- Bailey "Flap" Robertson–former Harlem Globetrotter; former NBA player; Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1990)
- Oscar Robertson–NBA player (1960–74); NBA's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1980); Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (1982)
- James Spaulding–jazz alto saxophonist and flautist
- Rodney Stepp–member of The Spinners
- Meshach Taylor–Hollywood actor
- The Counts–rhythm and blues and "doo-wop" band
Notable administrators and faculty
- Matthias Nolcox–first high school principal (1927–30)
- Thomas J. Anderson (1930)–second high school principal
- Russell A. Lane–third high school principal (1930–57); became Indianapolis Public Schools administrator in 1957
- Dr. Alexander M. Moor–fourth high school principal (1957–68); became Indianapolis Public Schools assistant superintendent in 1968
- Earl Donalson–fifth high school principal (1969–83)
- David Robinson–sixth high school principal (1983–86)
- Ray Crowe–Attucks's head of the boys' basketball coach (1950–57); coached the Attucks team to back-to-back IHSAA high school basketball championship titles in 1955 and 1956; Attucks's athletic director (1957–67); member of Indiana House of Representatives (1967–75); director of Indianapolis Parks Department (1976–79); member of Indianapolis City-County Council (1983–87)
- Bill Garrett–Attucks's head of the boys' basketball coach (1957–68); coached the team to an IHSAA high school basketball championship title in 1959; athletic director (1969–71); director of continuing education, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana (1971–73); assistant dean for student services, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (1973–74)
- John Morton-Finney–an original faculty member; head of foreign languages department, 1920s–1950s
- George Roddy–industrial arts teacher and boys' golf coach; winner of the National Negro Championship of the United Golf Association in 1930 and 1937
- Merze Tate–an original faculty member; later became a faculty member at Howard University and a Fulbright scholar
- Letty M. Wickliffe–head of special and gifted education programs, 1930s–1960s
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
- Crispus Attucks's ethnicity is now considered uncertain, but at the time the high school was named in the late 1920s it was believed that he was a black man. See: Stanley Warren (1998). Crispus Attucks High School: "Hail to the Green, Hail to the Gold". Virginia Beach, Virginia: Donning Company. p. 32. ISBN 9781578640324.
- Richard B. Pierce (2005). Polite Protest: The Political Economy of Race in Indianapolis, 1920–1970. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780253345875.
- Stanley Warren (2013). High Five: African-American Institutions That Have Strengthened the Indianapolis Community. Indianapolis, Indiana: IBJ Media. p. 4. ISBN 9781939550019.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 26–27.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 22–23.
- Warren, High Five, p. 12.
- Pierce, pp. 12–13.
- "Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)" (Searchable database). Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-08-01. Note: This includes Blanch Stewart and Glory-June Greiff (October 1987). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Crispus Attucks High School" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-01. and Accompanying photographs
- Phillip M. Hoose (2018). Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. pp. 23 and 26. ISBN 9780374306120.
- "Crispus Attucks High School". National Park Service. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- Ford, Lynn (February 1, 2001). "Library Factfiles - Crispus Attucks High School". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- Warren, High Five, p. 15.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 35–36 and 53.
- "Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)" (Searchable database). Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-05-01. Note: This includes Gregg Abell (December 2010). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Theodore Roosevelt High School" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-01. and Accompanying photographs.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 39.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 47–48.
- Hoose, p. 39.
- Aram Goudsouzian (March 2000). "'Ba-d, Ba-a-ad Tigers': Crispus Attucks Basketball and Black Indianapolis in the 1950s". Indiana Magazine of History. Bloomington: Indiana University. 96 (1): 9. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Pierce, p. 32.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 53.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 11 and 43.
- "IHB Marker Review: 49.1991.1 Crispus Attucks High School" (PDF). Indiana Historical Bureau. March 5, 2014. p. 2. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 45.
- Goudsouzian, p. 13.
- "IHB Marker Review, " p. 3.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 59–60 and 62–63.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 64.
- Pierce, p. 14.
- Hoose, pp. 37 and 44.
- "Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees: Hallie Bryant". Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- "Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees: Oscar Robertson". Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- "Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees: Indianapolis Crispus Attucks". Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 8, 2019. See also: "Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees: Crispus Attucks". Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Pierce, p. 23.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 77.
- Hoose, pp. 137, 140, 161, and 164.
- Goudsouzian, p. 40.
- Goudsouzian, p. 6.
- Goudsouzian, p. 14.
- “IHB Marker Review,” p. 4.
- Hoose, p. 172.
- Goudsouzian, p. 15.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 147.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 148–50.
- Hoose, pp. 172–73.
- Warren, High Five, p. 16.
- "Crispus Attucks High School". Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- Hoose, pp. 173 and 175–77.
- Associated Press (March 26, 2016). "Jazz great and IU professor David Baker dies at 84". Indianapolis Business Journal. Indianapolis, Indiana. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "Colin Power - a mentor from Attucks". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- "Harlem Globetrotters Legends". harlemglobetrotters.com. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- "Hall of Fame". hoopshall.com. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- "Carson, Julia May (1938 – 2007)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 163.
- "Bailey Robertson". hoopshall.com. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 80.
- "TV star and Attucks grad Meshach Taylor dies at 67". Indianapolis Star. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- The original members, known as The 5 Diamonds, were Chester Brown, James Lee, Robert Penick, Robert Wesley, and Robert Young. See: "The Dubs, The Counts". Doo-Wop Society Show #38. The Doo-Wop Society. November 3, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 47–48 and 86.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, pp. 86 and 89.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 89.
- A. James Fuller. "'Don't Let the Legend Die': Ray Crowe '38" (pdf). University of Indianapolis. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "Bill Garrett and the Integration of Big Ten Basketball, Part II". Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved August 3, 2018. Also: Hetty Gray (2001). Net Prophet: The Bill Garrett Story. Fairland, Indiana: Sugar Creek Publishing. pp. 142–45. ISBN 0-9712571-0-8.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 92.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 91.
- Warren, Crispus Attucks High School, p. 90.
- Official site
- "Indianapolis", a Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
- "Crispus Attucks Museum Collection" at the University Library, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
- Crispus Attucks High School-related materials in the digital collections of the Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis