Jesse Cornelius Crump
Portrait of Jesse C. Crump from Central Memorial High Yearbook
From an early age, Jesse Cornelius Crump’s mother instilled the value of education into him. She was insisted that each of her sons got a high school education even though the local black school only went up to the 7th grade. Eventually it was decided that Crump would go to live with his father and step-mother in Memphis, Tennessee to continue his schooling. He later entered Southern University while still a high school student and earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1932. Two years later, he married Wilhelmina Wilson and together they had one daughter. Crump later earned his Master’s in education from Atlanta University in 1951 and he did further study at the University of California at Berkley. This dedication to education became the foundation for Crump’s long career as an educator in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Crump served first as a teacher, counselor, then later as the principal of the all-black Central Memorial High School which fulfilled a dream his mother had for him. He was also highly influential in the community and served in many organizations including the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Southern University Alumni Federation, the NACCP, the American Legion, the Louisiana Education Association, and various Masonic organizations.
He was well known for his experience, diplomacy, and courage--all of which served him well when Bogalusa schools finally desegregated in the late 1960s. Central Memorial was closed and the students were moved to the previously all-white Bogalusa High School. The staffs of the two schools were also integrated; Crump was made assistant principal--a role that he kept until 1975. He faced challenges from both blacks and whites during a very tense time in the community’s history. He received an outpouring of support from the community upon his retirement. His papers included many letters from colleagues, friends, family, and former students that spoke of his dedication to mentoring and developing young people. Jesse C. Crump passed away April 30, 1983.
Images from the Jesse Cornelius Crump Papers. Images from the Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.