Huntington, WV Black History

John Willard Scott

Educator, Scholar, Author, Civic and Religious Leader

John Willard “J.W.” Scott was an educator, scholar, author and civic and religious leader.

Scott was born in 1873 in Albemarle County, Virginia. He moved with his family to Huntington at an early age. He attended college in Ohio and obtained his master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.

Scott was a renowned educator. During his tenure as principal of Douglass High School, enrollment increased eight-fold, and Douglass became one of the first segregated high schools to be accredited a “first-class” institution by the State Department of Education. Scott also created the first school savings bank, organized the first PTA and oversaw the erection of a new, then state-of-the-art, high school and other buildings. Later in his career, he served as principal of Sherman High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He was the first northerner to serve as president of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools and president of the West Virginia State Teachers Association. While chair of the Legislative Committee of the State Teachers Association, he helped expand the West Virginia Colored Institute (now West Virginia State University) from high school level education, vocational training and teacher preparation to college level.

Well known as a civic leader and political independent, Scott co-edited the state’s first Black newspaper, the West Virginia Spokesman, which focused on political progress for Black West Virginians. He later founded and edited a newspaper for Black Huntingtonians — The Breeze.

A scholar and prolific author, Scott penned many academic and other works. He was the first African American to have a paper published in the Ohio State Journal of Education.

A locally- and nationally-recognized religious leader, Scott faithfully served his local church, First Baptist, as superintendent of its Sunday School. He also served as general secretary of the West Virginia State Baptist Sunday School Convention for 47 years. He joined Booker T. Washington in founding the Convention’s Mount Olivet Association. He also served on the committee that secured the issuance of the Booker T. Washington postage stamp.
A selfless community leader, Scott also was active with the NAACP and sat on the Board of Management of the Ninth Street YMCA. The J.W. Scott Community Center, which serves Huntington’s under-resourced youth, is named in his honor.

Scott died on August 6, 1943, in Huntington and is buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.

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