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East Holmes Academy

East Holmes Academy (EHA) was a segregation academy in West, Mississippi.[4][5] The school was founded in 1965 and closed in 2006. In 1989, EHA received national attention after two incidents involving alleged racial discrimination.

East Holmes Academy
East Holmes Academy is located in Mississippi
East Holmes Academy
East Holmes Academy
17637 Emory Road, West, Mississippi 39192
Coordinates33°12′00″N 89°47′20″W / 33.2001165°N 89.7888618°W / 33.2001165; -89.7888618Coordinates: 33°12′00″N 89°47′20″W / 33.2001165°N 89.7888618°W / 33.2001165; -89.7888618
Opened1965 [1]
FounderFrank Drake[2]
Campus size23 acres (9.3 ha)
Campus typeRural
  • Red
  • White
  • Royal Blue
RivalHeritage Academy[4]
Last updated: December 2, 2017



In 1965, Holmes county public schools began to desegregate with limited busing programs. As a result, parents began withdrawing their children from public schools and sending them to all white private schools like EHA.[1][6]

In 1969 the trend accelerated when the Supreme Court issued a ruling ordering Holmes county public schools to desegregate immediately.[1] In the 1969–1970 school year, almost every white teacher in Holmes County left the public school system to rejoin their students at segregated private schools.[1] EHA's first board chair, Frank Drake, formerly taught at Inverness High School.[2]

Tuition grantsEdit

For the 1968–69 school year, EHA charged $300 (equivalent to $2,161 in 2018) for tuition.[7] A tuition grant program administered by the State of Mississippi provided vouchers of up to $240, covering 80% of that amount.[7] For the 1965–1966 school year, the grant program provided 95% of EHA’s tuition revenue. In 1969, in the case Coffey v. State Educational Finance Commission, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi ruled that since, in the court's opinion, EHA would refuse to admit qualified black students, the tuition grant program violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[8][7]

Loss of tax exempt statusEdit

The Internal Revenue Service revoked EHA's tax exempt status in 1970 after the IRS concluded that the school had failed to adopt racially non-discriminatory admissions policies.[9] The IRS announcement noted that since EHA had been unwilling to conform with IRS requirements for nondiscriminatory admissions, donations to the school would lose their tax deductible status.[9][10] As of 1982, EHA had not regained its tax exempt status.[11]

1989 football incidentsEdit

There were two racial controversies associated with EHA during the 1989 Mississippi Private School Association football season.

Exclusion of black broadcasterEdit

In the first controversy, EHA was reported to have asked an opposing school not to bring a black radio broadcaster to a game played at EHA.[12] The broadcaster, Glen Collins, was a former NFL player who was working as a color commentator for WJXN in Jackson. The Jackson Academy athletic director was reported to have told Collins' colleague Lee Adams that "Glen was not welcome up there [at East Holmes] because he was black."[12]

Adams said that he was incredulous that Collins was asked not to attend the August 25 game, stating Collins was "best person for the job" regardless of his race and that he "thought we were past all that other stuff."[12] Collins told the AP that after the incident, he made excuses not to broadcast other games at all white private academies.[13]

Offer to forfeit against integrated opponentEdit

In the second controversy, EHA offered to forfeit a football game because the other school had a black player.[14] The other school, Heritage Academy, was the first school in the MPSA north central AA conference to add a black player when it recruited running back Scott Fuller to transfer schools during the 1989 football season.[15][16] EHA claimed that its offer to forfeit the game was due to injuries, not race. The EHA headmaster told the Clarion Ledger "If we don't [play] it won't be because of that black."[16] Many rejected EHA's claims as untruthful,[17] with the Heritage Academy coach calling the claims "a bunch of bull."[16]

The Clarion Ledger reported that the decision to forfeit had been made by the whole board of directors.[18] The headmaster, Frank Drake, declined to comment on motivation of the board's decision, saying that "sometimes decisions are nobody's business."[18] The president of the MPSA said that if EHA violated the association's anti-discrimination policy, EHA would be expelled.[18][19]

In a 1990 retrospective interview, EHA board member Joe McClellan acknowledged that race was the motivation for the offer to forfeit. McClellan claimed that Heritage Academy "has a reputation for recruiting blacks", so the EHA board felt that it "had to say something." McClellan explained that the EHA board did not "hate blacks" and commented that "integration has only been around a few decades. Were our forefathers so wrong?"[20]

After EHA announced its decision, seven players and two board members resigned.[18][19][4] One former player told the Chicago Tribune that the EHA coach had told the team "we didn't want to play Heritage because we didn't want to advertise that blacks could come to the school."[4] One of the board members who left, Frank Janous, told the Carion-Ledger "I just felt a bad decision was being made, and I didn't want to be part of it."[21]

EHA ultimately reconsidered its decision to forfeit and visited Heritage Academy to play the game on October 20, 1989.[19] EHA lost the game 7–0.[22]


Many parents withdrew their children from EHA after the 1989 controversies. A total of 28 students withdrew from EHA and enrolled in Kosciusko public schools. Additional students transferred to other private schools.[21] One parent who withdrew his son told the Clarion-Ledger that, as a result of the incident, he was no longer willing "to support the school with our kids and our money".[21] The Clarion-Ledger also reported that faculty and staff at EHA who opposed the board's decision were forced to leave their positions.[21]

Several months after the football game, Scott Fuller played in a basketball game for Heritage Academy at EHA. Fuller told the Clarion-Ledger that he felt awkward when EHA students shouted "there he is" when Fuller entered the gym. Fuller added that EHA headmaster Frank Drake stared him down during the game, but the two did not exchange words. If the two did talk, Fuller wanted to tell Drake that he hoped Drake "had changed his views about blacks and whites".[21]


EHA shut down in May 2006. Many students transferred to Central Holmes Academy or Winona Academy.[23]


After its founding in 1965, EHA initially operated out of temporary quarters provided by the Durant Baptist Church.[24] Around 1969, EHA's high school moved into a former public school for black students.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d Milius, Peter (August 22, 1970). "Issue in the news: Private schools down south — Fleeing whites abandon public schools". The San Antonio Express. p. 15 – via The retreat [from public schools] began about 5 years ago when the court told the county ... to let black children go to white schools... Then the Supreme Court said “at once”... The same thing is happening at East Holmes Academy... The white teachers are leaving with their students
  2. ^ a b "Academy goes to 12 grades". Clarion-Ledger. Jackson, Mississippi. April 4, 1969. p. 6 – via
  3. ^ "Former MPSA/MAIS Schools". 247 Sports. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "A Goal-line Stand For Prejudice". Chicago Tribune. October 20, 1989. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Schools That Lost Tax Exemptions". Education Week. January 19, 1982. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  6. ^ Johnston, Erle (1990). Mississippi's Defiant Years, 1953–1973: An Interpretive Documentary with Personal Experiences. Lake Harbor Publishers. p. 309. ISBN 978-9991746159.
  7. ^ a b c Crespino, Joseph (2007). In Search of Another Country; Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century. Princeton University Press. p. 242. ISBN 9780691122090. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  8. ^ Coffey v. State Educational Finance Commission  296 F. Supp. 1389 (S.D. Miss. 1969) 
  9. ^ a b "Belzoni academy hit". Delta Democrat Times. Greenville, MS. September 13, 1970. p. 12 – via The [schools] allegedly had refused to adopt racially nondiscriminatory admissions policies... The five foundations involved in Fridays suspension include ... East Holmes Academy
  10. ^ "IRS Technical information release". September 11, 1970. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  11. ^ TAYLOR Jr, STUART (January 12, 1982). "EX-TAX OFFICIALS ASSAIL SHIFT ON SCHOOL EXEMPTION STATUS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c "White School Accused of Barring Black Broadcaster". Los Angeles Times. October 12, 1989. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "Former NFL player Glenn Collins shrugs off racial slap". Enterprise Journal. McComb, MS. October 16, 1989. p. 5 – via Collins said that he and Adams had been scheduled to broadcast a full slate of public and private games, but "after what happened, I didn't want to get involved with the private schools"
  14. ^ MacLeod, Jay (1991). "Bridging Street and School". The Journal of Negro Education. 60 (3): 264. doi:10.2307/2295481. JSTOR 2295481. As recently as 1989, East Holmes Academy refused to play a football game because the opposition's team included a black player.
  15. ^ Woodrick, Woody (October 12, 1989). "Fuller says he isn't trying to change the world by being the only black on the academy team". The Clarion Ledger. Jackson, MS. p. 1 – via Fuller, a sophomore at Columbus Heritage Academy, is the first black football player in the Mississippi Private School Association North Central AA Conference
  16. ^ a b c Dodd, Donald (October 12, 1989). "Heritage Academy adds black player, loses foes". The Clarion Ledger. Jackson, MS. p. 1 – via Fuller... transferred to Heritage from West Point High School four weeks ago
  17. ^ Dodd, Donald (October 15, 1989). "Clock is ticking on East Holmes' decision as nation waits – Analysis". The Clarion Ledger. Jackson, MS. p. D1 – via [Headmaster Frank] Drake has repeatedly said that the decision involving Heritage is not a racial one, but few believe him
  18. ^ a b c d Dodd, Donald (October 14, 1989). "East Holmes Academy had already agreed to forfeit". Clarion Ledger. p. 1 – via James Burrel of Durant, a member of the [EHA] board, said... "we discussed and reached that decision ... It was the whole board's decision"... Seven player quit the East Holmes team this week, and two board members, Frank Janus and Henry McClellan resigned, apparently in protest of the decision not to play Heritage... If [EHA]'s decision not to play is racially motivated, ... the school stands to lose its association membership.
  19. ^ a b c AP (October 20, 1989). "School Backs Down on Issue of Black Player". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  20. ^ Bandow, Doug (January 23, 1990). "Racism remains a major problem". The Standard-Speaker. Hazleton, Pennsylvania. p. 12.
  21. ^ a b c d e Dodd, Donald (October 14, 1990). "Fuller's brush with fame proves hard to wear out". Clarion-Ledger. p. 5D – via Kosciusko superintendent of schools David Sistrunk says 28 former East Holmes students transferred to the Kosciusko public school system. Others transferred to... According to former schools boosters, several other members of the faculty resigned or were asked to resign.
  22. ^ "Heritage knocks Raiders out of the playoffs". The Star Herald. Kosciusko, MS. October 26, 1989. p. 5 – via
  23. ^ Townsend, Daniel (May 18, 2006). "EHA shuts doors". The Star-Herald. Kosciuko, MS. p. 1.
  24. ^ "Private school opens at Durant". Clarion Ledger. September 13, 1965. p. 1 – via Facilities of the Durant Baptist Church are being readied for the school
  25. ^ Knobler, Mike (October 15, 1989). "Dividing lines of race linger in Mississippi". The Register. Des Moines, IA. p. 1 – via Twenty years ago East Holmes Academy's high school was used a public school, a public school for black students

External linksEdit