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Martha Louise Foxx
*Martha Louise Morrow Foxx was born on this date in 1902. She was a pioneering Black educator of the blind in Mississippi.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, an eye disease left Foxx partially blind as a child. She entered the Raleigh School for the Blind as a young child until her family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when she was eleven. There she was enrolled in the Overbrook School for the Blind, later beginning college at Temple University.
After her first year, she moved to the Piney Woods Country School near Jackson, Mississippi, to begin her career. In the summers after starting there, she completed her college at the West Virginia State College, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Hampton Institute, where she received her bachelor's degree. Foxx was instrumental in founding the Mississippi Blind School for Negroes on the Piney Woods School campus in April 1929. Initially called the "house mistress," she was later the principal of the school.
In 1945, Helen Keller visited the Piney Woods School and appeared before the state legislature to appeal for funding. In 1950 the new Mississippi School for the Blind for white and Black students was completed. It was moved to its new location on Capers Street in Jackson, Mississippi, where Foxx was the principal. Foxx’s teaching philosophy embraced a very modern dynamic of learning outside the walls of the classroom and of incorporating nature into lessons. She often took the children into the surrounding woods to hunt for plums and to pick wild berries.
Ernestine Archie, a graduate of the school's first class of 1934, recalled Foxx’s determination that the visually handicapped students be allowed to enjoy outings just as the sighted students did and that their senses of touch, taste, sound, and smell made up for the deficiency in sight. Archie recalled how the dynamic teacher also claimed that these forays into nature sharpened the blind students’ "sixth sense," honing their spirits as well as their minds. Utilizing what at the time were progressive techniques, Foxx taught her students to read Braille and special large-print books.
Her techniques and leadership are credited with guiding the Mississippi Blind School for Negroes towards integration, embodied by the creation of the Mississippi School for the Blind for both Blacks and whites in 1950. Martha Foxx retired from her job as principal in 1969. She died in 1975.
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