Looking Back: J. T. Barber High School

Tryon Palace is proud to present “Looking Back: J.T. Barber High School 1956-1970,”in honor of the 50th anniversary of the last segregated class of high school seniors that graduated from J.T. Barber High School in 1970 and will be featured in the Cannon Gallery.  

The school was named for John Thomas Barber, a famed African American educator, who was the principal for decades at the Old West Street School.  Barber established the school’s first band in 1915 with personal funding and is recognized for many other contributions within the community.

Despite the US Supreme Court ruling in 1954 that segregated schools were unconstitutional, the work of desegregation was not accomplished easily or quickly. Nevertheless, the students of J.T. Barber from 1955 through 1970 have reason to celebrate.  Despite facing inequality under segregation, they persevered, and their accomplishments were many.  Some excelled academically, going on to work in medicine, engineering, education, law, and other fields.  Others went on to professional sports careers.