This is a picture of the first Tivoli school. It was then called The Defuniak Springs School for Coloreds. It began circa 1912. Tivoli School was an elementary and junior high school from 1912 until 1935. The 10th, 11th, and 12th grades were phased in during the 1935-36, 1936-37, and 1937-1938 school years, respectively. Annie Ruth Campbell preserved the history of many black institutions in DeFuniak Springs and the surrounding area. She wrote, “Prior to the location of the school at Thomas Avenue and Park Street, classes were held in a house built by Ike McKinnon and Columbus Gipson. McKinnon donated land, materials and labor for the Nelson Avenue structure. . . . The four room school [on Park Street], built by the local school board, was later expanded by the addition of two more rooms. During several subsequent administrations, as black schools throughout the county were phased out, five brick buildings were erected on the site.”
The first senior high school class graduated 12 students in 1938. The seven girls were Rosa Helen Jenkins, Georgia Wheeler, Lartha Wheeler, unidentified teacher, Thelma Manning, Gladys Hooks, Ruth Helen Hollis, and Freddie Mae McLean. The five boys were Burford Kidd, Shelby Campbell, Theophilus Preston (“T.P”) Campbell, Monroe Hill, and Jesse Ray Ingram. T. P. Campbell returned to DeFuniak Springs after attending college in Georgia and taught at Tivoli. He served as its principal from 1957 until 1969, the year the school was closed due to desegregation. Previous principals were M. L. Clay (mid-1920s to 1933), Gilbert Porter (1933 to January 1938), Oliver W. Holmes (January 1938 to June 1940), Robert Bragg, Jr. (1940 to 1942), William DuBose (1942 to 1947), Harry L. Burney (1947 to 1951), and Henry T. Wilkerson (1951 to 1956)
Tivoli is a Rosenwald School....A Rosenwald School was any of the over five thousand schools, shops, and teachers' homes in the United States which were built primarily for the education of African-American children in the South in the early 20th century. The project was the product of the partnership of Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish American clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and the African American leader Booker T. Washington.
The need arose from the chronic underfunding of public education for African-American children in the South, as black people had been disenfranchised at the turn of the century and excluded from the political system in that region. Children were required to attend racially segregated schools.
Rosenwald was the founder of The Rosenwald Fund. He contributed seed money for many of the schools and other philanthropic causes, requiring local communities to raise matching funds to increase their commitment to these projects.
To promote collaboration between white and black citizens, Rosenwald required communities to commit public funds and/or labor to the schools, as well as to contribute additional cash donations. De Funiak Springs School for Colored was built by the Rosenwald project in Walton County, Florida. 1923-24. It housed 4 teachers and sat on about 2 acres of land. Later in the project two additional rooms were added creating a 6-teacher type school. "The Rosenwald Project gave 1,110.00 dollars to help fund this school while the public gave 1,400.00 dollars; Negroes gave 1,500.00 dollars, Whites gave 500.00 dollars. This leads me to believe that with this particular school the support of white people in the area to help fund it was not in abundance. Since Walton County sits in north Florida almost to the Alabama line, that may have played a factor in white people being unwilling to help with providing schools to African America children. White school boards had to agree to operate and maintain the schools, and millions of dollars were raised by African-American rural communities across the South to fund better education for their children. Despite this program, by the mid-1930s, white schools in the South were worth, per student, more than five times what black schools were worth per student (in majority-black Mississippi, this ratio was more than 13 to one. In the segregated schools of the South, African American children were sent to woefully underfunded schools. The collaboration of Rosenwald and Washington led to the construction of almost 5,000 schools for black children in the eleven states of the former Confederacy as well as Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland. As a result of their collaboration approximately one-third of African American children were educated in these schools."The list of prominent alumni and educators includes ancestors of Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Tony Award-winning playwright George Wolfe, and Julian Bond. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson also went to a Rosenwald school. Florida had 120 schools, 1 in a home and 4 in shops for a total of 125.