Laurinburg Institute, Laurinburg, NC

The Beginning: On April 29, 1902, W. P. Evans, a well-to-do-Black businessman, wrote Booker T. Washington requesting an able person to assist in the education of the Laurinburg, North Carolina “Negro” population.

When no help came, Mr. Washington, along with Mr. William Edwards, asked recent Snow Hill graduates, Emmanuel and Tinny McDuffie to accept the challenge of going to North Carolina to start a school, of which they did. They literally walked from Alabama to North Carolina to establish the Laurinburg Institute as a trade and high school in 1904.

The school founders possessed only a small piece of swampland and a dream of providing quality education and guidance for black children. The school opened in a one-room building with 15 cents in the treasury.

The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, (1954), made desegregation the law of the land. State and local officials asked the McDuffie family to transfer Laurinburg Institute to Scotland County, North Carolina, so the county government would not have to build a new school. The McDuffie family refused the offer, instead, moving the Institute “brick by brick” to its present-day site to avoid its being closed by state officials.

As integration took hold, blacks began to abandon black schools in favor of majority institutions and facilities. The popularity and population at black schools began to decline.

During this period, Laurinburg Institute positioned itself as a residential private preparatory school and offered education in grades 9 through 12. The school also offered an additional “prep” year to prepare students for college.

Since 1954, over 83% of Laurinburg Institute graduates have finished college and other post-secondary training institutions.