John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Builds Up Education

Prominent Spotsylvania County educator John J. Wright, a former slave, returned to his roots in 1913 to help found  Snell Training School for the education of colored children in association with Spotsylvania Sunday School Union. “John J. Wright was a powerful man.” Says Roger Braxton Historian at the museum. “He was a learned man.  College educated.”

Representation of child getting her education a one-room schoolhouse in the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum. (Photo: S.K. Allen)

Wright had organized a meeting of Sunday School superintendents from local black Baptist churches at St. Luke Baptist Church. there forming the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union, as fundraisers to financially support the development of the Fredericksburg Normal & Industrial Institute.  “John Wanted a high school for the black children,” Constance Braxton said of John J. Wright. “Because all we had then were these one-room school houses.” Snell Training School, was one of the only high school that served Black children in the county until integration in 1968.

 

Constance Braxton educator and former student from John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center. Standing next to the portrait (Photo: S.K. Allen)

 

After a tragic fire in 1941, the SpotsylvaniaCounty School Board agreed to build a new school and finally put the teachers on the payroll.  20 acres of land were donated by the Sunday School Union to erect the new building, which opened to all county black youth in 1952 with the new name John J. Wright Consolidated School.  The new building now housed all grades from first, through twelfth. When county schools finally integrated in 1968, John J. Wright School held all of the sixth and seventh grades.

In 1981 the building was renovated, becoming a Middle school.  This was how the school became recognized by the Virginia department of education, as the most outstanding middle school in the areas of reading, public speaking, community involvement and technology education.

Education primer books used by children in the school. (Photo: S.K. Allen)

in 2006, however, after much consideration, John J Wright’s facilities ceased to be a middle school because the cost of needed improvement exceeded the cost of a new building.  Thus a new Middle school was built.  “We, as the African American community felt it was important to preserve the name John J. Wright, ” Said Mrs. Braxton, and so JJW became John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center in 2008.

Today John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center continues to bring education excellence by housing a Cultural Center and Museum.  The building hosts all sorts of educational programs and services to Spotsylvania County students from Pre-K through 12th Grade.

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