Thursday, June 8, 2023

Burgaw Elementary to be renamed in honor of principal of segregated Black school

Burgaw Elementary will be renamed C.F. Pope Elementary. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Facebook)

BURGAW — In an era when many schools and fields bearing Confederate names are given fresh names, one school in Pender County is reverting to the old days of segregation — but in this case, to honor the principal of a former Black school.

The Pender County Board of Education voted to switch the name of Burgaw Elementary back to C.F. Pope Elementary, named after Cicero Franklin Pope, who was the school’s principal for 38 years. Once a high school, it was home to segregated Black students until 1969. The following year it became Burgaw Elementary when the district became fully integrated.

“Remembering history is such an important thing to do,” Board Chairman Don Hall said. “The name C.F. Pope still brings pride to so many in our community, but that generation is getting older. Making sure the next generation understands why C.F. Pope is so important to our history in Pender County is crucial.”

The school was founded in 1891, only 30 years after the start of the Civil War. It was named the Burgaw Institute and the Burgaw Colored High School before it changed to C.F. Pope High School in 1952.

“The transition to officially restore Burgaw Elementary to C.F. Pope Elementary will be an ongoing process,” according to a statement from Pender County Schools.

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