Holocaustically Massacre of Teenaged Negro Boys ” The Wrightsville 21″

Written by Jae Jones

133670_5Not too many people know about the holocaustically massacre of 21 teenaged boys. These boys were housed at the state ran Wrightsville Negro Boys Industrial School. While the boys were there a horrific fire broke out and 21 Black boys burned to death. The only door to the school was locked. There were 48 boys who managed to escape but the others were found huddled together or in corners, most of them were found in positions that showed they were trying to get out.  One of the young boys who was 16 and a sergeant at the school broke out a window, and 48 of the boys managed to free themselves.

Gov. Orval Faubus, at the time arrived on the scene shaken and angered, charged negligence was responsible for the deaths and ordered state police to “let the chips fall where they may.” He prepared to go before the Arkansas Legislature and ask for an emergency appropriation. There was an investigation, however, it was ruled that it was not arson. However, the written results of the investigation was never made public. Now, the records cannot be found.

The cause of the fire has never been established, and the bodies of the black children never received proper identification. Families of the boys wanted closure, the wanted the bodies exhumed and wanted DNA test to be ran on the remains. The families of the deceased said that authorities told them that 14 of the dead boys were wrapped in newspapers and deposited in an unmarked grave. Some family members were skeptical of the account the officials gave of the burial.

The land once occupied by the unit now houses the Arkansas Department of Correction Wrightsville Unit. There are no markers there that indicate that the boy’s school existed or that the fire occurred’. There is still very little known today what took place the pre-dawn morning of March 5, 1959. However, what is known is that someone knew exactly what happened and went through great lengths to hide and cover it up.

It was said during that time that the fire was believed to have started from defective wiring. “It was absolutely inexcusable that nobody was in charge of the building,” the governor said. “There is supposed to be a man in each building to warn the boys of any such disaster as this.” The children who were attending the school were there for minor infractions such hubcap stealing, or they just didn’t have anywhere to go. Read more


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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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