Adkin High School students relive history through Kinston mural

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Two Lenoir County artists are shining light on an event that happened nearly 70 years ago.

School officials, back in 1951, denied black students in Kinston their request for new educational opportunities. They were asking for a new gym, a home ec and auto mechanics room.

Adkin High School’s Class of 1952 marched from the school to the city’s Main Street demanding change.

“We marched peacefully, and if you can accomplished what you want peacefully, then that’s the best way to do it,” said Alice Shepard Jefferson, alumni of Adkin High School, who participated in the protest.

The Kinston Graded School Board heard their voices and a new gym was built in the fall of 1953.

“Every time I go in there I think we the cause of it being there,” said Shepard Jefferson.

Now eight paintings located on the side of the Lenoir County Register of Deeds tell the story of the historic walkout spearheaded by the students at Adkin High School.

“It feels good, we was fighting for equality but we didn’t have it,” said Bessie Maxwell.

A drive-thru viewing was held Saturday afternoon for alumni of the school. Local artists Maximillian Mozingo and Jamil Burton stood by as they watched former students take in their work.

“And that’s all we want, start a conversation, honor the brave that came before us,” said Burton.

Mozingo says each painting represents an act of bravery “with no adult influence they took it upon themselves to fight for equal education.”

Students after the Class of 1952 were able to benefit from it. Adkin High School was later demolished. The gym, however, was preserved. The Adkin High School committee now manages the place.

The paintings are expected to be up for the next ten years.

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