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Robert W. Simmons, politician and pioneer in black education, was born around 1822 at Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father, Streshley Simmons, was a free black citizen of Virginia and a veteran of the War of 1812.By 1858, Simmons and his wife Susan King had nine children. His concern for his children and other young African-Americans propelled him in 1862 to take the lead in founding the Sumner School, a private school for the town’s blacks. The tuition was one dollar per month, but children whose families were unable to pay were allowed to attend free of charge. Classes initially were housed in an army barrack. Simmons, on horseback, had made a long and dangerous war-time trip to Washington, where he secured the building directly from President Lincoln. The fledgling institution became a landmark in the history of education, becoming West Virginia’s earliest black public school in 1866. It was then named after U.S. Congress Charles Sumner, an abolitionist from Massachuseets, who was severly beaten by a South Carolina representative on the floor of Congress for his anti-slavery speech which denounced the killing of white abolitionists in the "Bloody Kansas" uprisings known as the pre-civil war era. Simmons also helped to establish a black Sunday school in Parkersburg and served as its first superintendent. In !954 after the Brown v. Board of Ed of Topeka case ended segregation the main school was torn down. It was renovated and became a school for handicap children. In the 1980's it became a museum, The Sumnerite.http://pinterest.com/blackhistory/black-history/

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