After the Civil War, schools for black students were established in Virginia. The first school in Fredericksburg was started by S.J. Patch of the 19th Wisconsin Regiment in July 1865. Several other schools were started, including one in the Shiloh Baptist Church. In 1938 the first publicly supported black high school was established in Fredericksburg and it was named Walker-Grant High School. It was named for Joseph Walker and Jason Grant, two city residents who contributed many hours and enormous effort to the establishment of the school. Both men worked for many years to have this high school in Fredericksburg. After the city schools were desegregated, in 1968, Walker-Grant became the middle school and all city school children attended the school. A new building was built in 1988 and the name was transferred, so that our proud traditions could be carried into the future.
They came from different backgrounds.
- Joseph F. Walker
Joseph Walker was born a slave in Spotsylvania County in 1854. He worked at a variety of jobs over his lifetime, carrying bulk mail for the post office, as sexton at the Fredericksburg National Bank and at the black school and for over 50 years as the sexton of St. George’s Episcopal Church, just to name a few. He was also involved in several organizations. Enduring through these activities was his interest in education. He was self-taught, having learned through his jobs and observing others.
Jason C. Grant Sr.
Jason Grant was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada in 1861. Grant’s father had learned to read and write and was able to write a pass to allow himself to travel. He escaped from Kentucky and fled over the Ohio River and then continued to Canada. Jason Grant was born a freeman and was educated in Ontario, in Pontiac Michigan and at Wilberforce Educational Institute in Ohio. He moved to Fredericksburg, at a friend’s invitation, and began his career in the county and city schools. He retired from education after serving 42 years as a teacher and principal.
Fitzgerald, Ruth Coder. A Different Story : A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania, Virginia. Unicorn, c1979.