A former school building in Beeville, Texas, stands as a reminder of a shameful time in our state's history -- a time when racism was a matter of law.

The Lott-Canada School was where black children had to attend up until the 1960's.

Martha Stovall knows all about the school. She was a student there from 1957-62. Joanna O'Riley also went to school there. She attended classes from 1946-55.

Both have a special connection to Lott-Canada -- it was named for their grandfathers.

"The original school was built in 1886 and it was just not quite a half-block from here," O'Riley said. "It was a wooden school and it was built by our grandfathers. My grandfather, Moses Jackson Lott, and her grandfather, Allen Canada."

Lott-Canada was built in 1931 at the corner of Corpus Christi and Burke streets. It was the newest schoolhouse for black children because segregation was enforced throughout the state beginning in the late 1880s. That segregation lasted through 1963 when schools were finally fully integrated.

"Bee County was one of the first schools in Texas to integrate, and that was in 1955," O'Riley said.

O'Riley remembers well what it was like during segregation. She said sometimes whites would show up to their school plays and have to have separate seating arrangements.

"Of course the white people got to sit up front and the black people sat in the back, and even at the movie theater downtown, the white people sat downstairs and one, one side upstairs was the black side and on the other side was the Hispanic side," O'Riley said.

Stovall said it is that history that she and other alumni association members would like school children to learn about.

"A lot of them don't know what it's even about because they have not been segregated, and they don't know what it's all about," Stovall said.

Lott-Canada is on the National Register of Historical Places and serves as a museum that is open by appointment only. Stovall and O'Riley said they would like to see it staffed and open during the week and possibly once again serving as a school.

"Now it's just strictly a museum," Stovall said. "One day I would like for it to be a place where we could do tutorials for children."

It could be a place where children not only learn the lessons of the day but the lessons of the past.

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