Wechsler School

Trail Marker

1415 30th Avenue, Meridian, MS

Wechsler School played an important role in Black education and heritage in Meridian. Built in 1894, it was the first brick public school for Black students in Mississippi to be built using public funding. It was named for Rabbi Judah Wechsler of Congregation Beth Israel, who led the effort to provide public education for Black children. It is believed that Rabbi Wechsler also made a sizable financial contribution toward the school’s construction.

Wechsler School originally taught students through the eighth grade. The school expanded over the years and by 1921 became the only public school in east central Mississippi to offer high school diplomas to Black students. The school attracted students from all over Mississippi as well as Alabama and Tennessee. Wechsler also hosted the Meridian-State Normal for Teachers, a summer program that helped undereducated Black educators become better qualified to teach.

In 1937, a new high school was opened, named for longtime Wechsler principal T. J. Harris. Wechsler continued to operate as an elementary and junior high school, and later as a kindergarten until it closed in 1983. T. J. Harris would go on to become one of the largest high schools in Mississippi and later add classes to become Meridian’s first Black junior college.

Directions to next marker (Freedom School): Continue down 15th Street one block; turn right on Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Drive/31st Avenue; continue one-half block to marker on right.

Scroll to Top