GALLIPOLIS — The Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre will be honoring the late Lincoln School principal and teacher Dr. Edward Bouchet with a performance Feb. 21 by the Ariel Children’s Chorus and Washington C.A.T.S. Choir in celebration of Black History Month.
The event, which begins at 2 p.m., is free and open to the public that Sunday. Donations are welcomed.
Elaine Armstrong, a volunteer with the John Gee Black Historical Center, will be providing commentary during the event.
Ariel Children’s Chorus and Washington C.A.T.S. Choir will perform songs about perseverance such as “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” “When You Believe” will be sung in tribute to those who had sought freedom from oppression in the past. Elaine Armstrong will speak and emphasize that the Christian God is at the core of the African American experience. “Let us Break Bread Together” will be sung. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” “The Storm is Passing Over,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace” will also be among the songs performed.
According to Tribune writer, the late James Sands, Bouchet served with the Lincoln School on Third Avenue from 1908 to 1913. The school was originally constructed in 1868 and closed in 1951. Lincoln School was known for serving African American students of the time.
Bouchet, the deceased African American physicist, teacher and principal, was known historically for being the first African American graduate of Yale College, the second African American to be nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the first African American to earn a Ph.D., as well as being the sixth person of any race to earn a doctorate in physics in the Western Hemisphere.
William Francis Bouchet, Dr. Bouchet’s father, was born into slavery in 1817. The man was brought to New Haven as a servant of John Robertson, from Charleston, S.C. Robertson was a student of Yale College and up until he graduated, William worked as a porter before becoming a janitor of the college. William married his wife, Susan, who then served as a washer woman of Yale students.
Dr. Bouchet was born the youngest of four children and the only son. He graduated in 1870 as valedictorian of his class. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1874 with highest honors and was ranked sixth in his class. Bouchet earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1876 and studied at Yale with known physicists Josiah Gibbs and Arthur Wright.
Bouchet had trouble finding work as a professor or in research. Despite this, he served as a teacher of multiple schools over the years. He gathered African American scientists to discuss academics for roughly 26 years while teaching at the School for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. The school would later be called Cheyney State University. Bouchet was always in the business of teaching young minds.
Bouchet served with the Lincoln School from 1908 to 1913 before suffering from arteriosclerosis. He left Gallipolis and returned to New Haven before dying in 1918.
According to Bobette Braxton, of the John Gee Historical Society, “history walks with two legs in Gallipolis and people never know when it hits them in the face” when speaking of Dr. Bouchet and the Lincoln School. The school was located at the corner of Olive Street before its closure.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.