The highway marker that I am choosing for my Historical Marker Research Package is Pocahantas High School. I chose this historical marker because when it was mentioned in class, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more about it. By focusing on a segregated black high school that was built right after World War Two and in the middle of the Great Depression, I am able to focus a lot on the stories that were not necessarily written down. I could also ask the question, why did the Virginia government decide to add this specific high school to the historical markers list? Why did they think it was a piece of functioning history that deserved a highway marker? I would like to examine why Pocahontas High School remains to be a relevant piece of history today.
Using Trouillot’s methods from Silencing the Past, I am looking to try and find stories of Pocahontas High School that may not have been important then nor relevant to the narrative initially painted by those who recorded the school’s history. I would also like to find out if the date, 1937, is set because of particular biases, if any, regarding the school’s construction. Also, I would like to figure out why the government decided to change the dedication of the building from a training school to a high school. What was the significance of providing a high school in lieu of a training school at the time? Who benefited the most from the high school and who benefitted the most from the training school? Are those who benefitted from either the same group of people? These questions will enable me to explore the unwritten, forgotten, and silenced histories behind the construction and establishment of Pocahontas High School.
Along with asking questions about the date the high school was built, I would like to explore the reasoning behind why the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works provided funding for the school to be built. I would also like to find out why the Virginia Board of Education provided funds via their Literary Fund as well as the intentions behind why the Southern Education Foundation focused specifically on Pocahontas High School. In order to answer these questions, I will look into the demographics of the surrounding towns in order to identify just how many African American students would be zoned into this school. Also, is this the first public school for black students in the area? Or is it simply the most significant? All of these questions go back to the initial question: What are the stories that were not told about this school, and where can we find them?