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Smith Robertson School History
Richard WrightThe History of Smith Robertson School
Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center is housed in the former Smith Robertson School, the first public school built for African Americans in Jackson, Mississippi. The school opened in 1894 and served the African American community until 1971. The original building was a two-story wood structure that burned in 1909. A brick structure was erected by a local African American contractor to replace the school that same year. In 1929, the prominent architectural firm Hull and Mulvaney enlarged the building and enhanced it with an art deco facade.

The school was named for Mr. Smith Robertson, who was born a slave in Fayette, Alabama, in 1847. After the Civil War, he migrated to Jackson where he operated a successful barbering business. He was also in local politics and became the first African American Alderman in the City of Jackson.

Notable Graduates
One of the most notable graduates of Smith Robertson School is internationally known novelist and 1925 graduate Richard Nathaniel Wright. Though he spent only a few years of his life in Mississippi, those years would play a key role in his two most important works: Native Son, a novel, and his autobiography, Black Boy.

Dr. Jessie MosleyIntegration
The school closed in 1971 because of integration and was abandoned. Concerned citizens within the community wanted to stop the building from being demolished. Dr. Jessie Bryant Mosley and Dr. Alferdteen Harrison organized a petition to save the school. The museum opened in 1984. Dr. Jessie Mosley was the museum's first director and was eventually named "Director Emeritus."