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Sun, 10.26.1952

Spingarn High School, Washington D.C. Opens

Spingarn H.S.

*Spingarn High School is celebrated on this date in 1952. This was a segregated public high school for Black students in the District of Columbia.

The school is named after Joel Elias Spingarn, a white-American Jewish educator and activist. Spingarn High School opened as a new modern high school, the last segregated high school built in Washington, DC, just two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. The formal dedication ceremonies in December 1953 were attended by Spingarn's widow, Amy Spingarn, and by Spingarn Medal winners Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois.

The principal speaker at the dedication was Howard University professor John Hope Franklin. Dr. Purvis J. Williams was the first principal and served until 1971. Under his leadership, Spingarn gained a reputation as one of the top black schools in the district. Spingarn's enrollment was around 1500 students, who were almost entirely black even after desegregation. Woodson Junior High School students were housed in Spingarn High School from 1962 to 1963.

Spingarn High School has one of DC's most impressive basketball histories and has produced well-known players such as Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, and Sherman Douglas. Spingarn has played in more City Title games than all but one DC public school and won in 1961, 1980, 1985, and 2000. The school has also played in nine DCIAA title games and won consecutively between 2000 and 2003. Spingarn High School closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year. In May 2014, the school was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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