An Allegheny Triumph of Justice
Carrie Williams’ Courageous Fight for Equal Rights in the Early Jim Crow Era
by Kathleen Jackson Costantini
Carrie Williams, the African American teacher at the Coketon Colored School in Tucker County, West Virginia, in the 1890s, bravely confronted an attempt to rob black children of their educational rights. In the burgeoning Jim Crow era that legally sanctioned black second-class citizenship, Carrie courageously challenged the all white Tucker County Board of Education when it shortened the school term for African American children. Her battlefield was a courtroom and her champion was John Robert Clifford, the first African American lawyer admitted to the bar in West Virginia.
Until recently, the national importance of this landmark litigation has remained obscured, largely due to the earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson. Carrie Williams’ victory provided a steady ray of hope from atop the Allegheny Mountains during the long fight for equal rights for African Americans. This is Carrie’s story, a true American heroic narrative.
About the Author
Kathleen Jackson Costantini has over twenty-five years experience as a teacher, administrator and academic advisor in diverse urban school settings. Throughout her career, she has developed and taught Advanced Placement courses in United States History and American Government and Politics. A specialist in the study of primary source documents, she was the director of a Gilder Lehreman Institute of American History enrichment program for high school students. Kathleen later founded the American Studies Writing Workshop, a tuition free document based writing program for low income students in New York.
Kathleen is a guest lecturer at Manhattan College where she has taught graduate classes in Professional Writing and Counseling the College Applicant. She is the co-author of Counseling 21st Century Students for Optimal College and Career Readiness (Routledge Press). Currently, Kathleen is an educational counselor and consultant assisting students with various educational needs, including learning differences, organizational issues and developmental writing skills. Most importantly, she is a writer avidly exploring topics in American history.
Kathleen earned her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Detroit and her M. A. in English Literature at Fordham University. She lives in New York and is frequently in the Mountain State.