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Graduates of the Allen School

Advancing Civil Rights, Arts, and Science

This panel highlights the national movement to create spaces of education for Black students after the Civil War. Visitors will learn about the Allen School founded in Asheville in 1887 and the many women that advanced civil rights, arts, and science.


Allen Industrial School [12]

After the end of the Civil War, there was a national movement to create schools for Black students. The Allen School was founded in 1887 to offer basic education classes for girls, boys, and adults. The Allen School later became a girls boarding school.

The Allen School produced nationally and internationally recognized women including Nina Simone, singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist, and Dr. Christine Darden, one of the first Black female aerospace engineers for NASA. In 1961, teenage activists Oralene Simmons of Stephens-Lee High School and Viola Spells of the Allen School successfully petitioned to desegregate a public library. Many students in Asheville participated in further integration efforts around the city through the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality (ASCORE). The school closed in 1974.