George Washington Carver High School (Carver) was established in 1926 as a segregated school for African Americans in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. Established by the Phoenix Union High School District, it was originally named the Phoenix Union Colored High School. However the name was changed to George Washington Carver High School in 1943, the same year as Mr. Carver’s death. Carver was established to provide a secondary education for African Americans who were barred from attending school with Caucasians. The school was established under the separate but equal doctrine which posited that Blacks’ constitutional rights were not violated by being allowed to use facilities, schools, etc, so long as they were accorded access to separate but equal facilities.
Carver, which began as the sole educational option for Blacks, turned out to be a first-rate educational institution because of the high quality and motivation of the staff. Further, the students were inspired to do their best, and they often did so without the benefit of equal budgets, equipment and supplies. Indeed, Carver proved to be a breeding ground for scholars, athletes and artists.
In 1953 an Arizona court ruled school segregation unconstitutional, thus setting the stage for Carver’s students to be assimilated into other existing high schools. This was a year before the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down the separate but equal doctrine. Carver closed its doors as a high school. However, in 1986 four enterprising Carver alumnae incorporated the Phoenix Monarchs Alumni Association. These individuals were: Eunice LeForbes Dodson, President; Loretta Willis, Financial Secretary; Verna Mae Owens, Treasurer; and, Hattie Marie Colbert, Corresponding Secretary. The articles of incorporation were published in the Arizona Business Gazette on July 28, August 4 and August 11 in 1986.
Ten years later the Phoenix Monarchs Alumni Association purchased from Phoenix Union High School District No. 210, the Carver High School building and grounds for use as a museum and cultural center. Phoenix Union High School District No. 210 is a political subdivision of the State of Arizona. The conveyance of the Carver property was made by special warranty deed, dated March 15, 1996. Former Monarchs President Tommie Williams was a signatory to this document.
The building, and the almost five acres it sits on, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Despite not being fully funded, Carver has managed to bring nationally acclaimed exhibits to Phoenix. Recently, Carver co-hosted (with the Arizona Ecumenical Council and the Blessing Project Arizona) The Blessing Project: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People. Also, the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame Museum honored us by sharing a traveling exhibit at Carver. Additionally, Carver continues to host numerous performances and exhibits.
Carver has been and will continue to be a positive force for diversity and inclusion within Arizona and beyond. We aim to provide educational opportunities to the community and to continue our cross-cultural ventures in ways that edify, educate and entertain.
Our challenge is to perpetuate Carver’s legacy, share its unique historical experiences and provide a forum and showcase for multicultural endeavors in Arizona and beyond. In meeting this challenge we are looking for sponsors, partners and donors to help us to, among other things, fund multi-purpose interpretative spaces, acquire artifacts, promote education and cultural interaction and awareness.
We would hope that you will join us in this exciting opportunity to use a historical institution to benefit and enhance the future of generations to come.