either in 1926 or 1928. Her mother, Ann Tripp, Class of 1934,
started going to the grade school in the 1920s.
“If you want to go back to celebrate when they first started
the school, then go all the way back to 1906,” Mimms said.
The 81-year-old lives in Fort Pierce near the current LPA, an
area she says was called Tuskegee Park.
In a history of black education in St. Lucie County, Gaines
said, “In 1921, there were only 18 Negro pupils in the twelfth
grade in the three four-year high schools in the entire state,
and none of them was accredited.”
In 1923, James Espy was principal of a vocational high
school in Sandersville, Georgia, when he was convinced to
lead a high school for African Americans in Fort Pierce.
The school, which became Lincoln Park Academy, opened
in September as a junior high school with five ninth graders.
The community wanted more. Parents packed the St. Paul
AME Church to tell the county schools superintendent, W.E.
Riggs, they wanted a full four-year high school. Riggs said
they could have it if they raised $1,600. They raised $2,600.
Espy knew the importance of the school having a solid
name. Some wanted it named after the principal, but
In November 1924, The News Tribune reported that the
county board of public instruction “granted the request of the
colored Parent-Teachers Association to name the local colored
school ‘Lincoln Park Academy.’”
There were few school supplies and no dictionary. When
Espy asked for a dictionary, it was diverted to St. Lucie
County High School. Later the white secondary school was
renamed Fort Pierce High School and finally Dan McCarty
High School. McCarty, member of a pioneer family, was the
only Fort Pierce native to serve as Florida’s governor. He died
at age 41 in 1953, when he was only eight months into his
Espy’s requirement that LPA teachers have bachelor
degrees and a demand for academic rigor set the Fort Pierce
school apart from the beginning.
A 1927 survey of Florida State Department of Education
schools found that “Education among Negroes in Florida is
very spotty, ranging from very good at Lincoln Park Academy
down to the very poorest.”
And the tradition continues. LPA has received an A from
the Florida Department of Education every year since 2002.
It rated in the 96th percentile of the nearly 24,000 U.S. high
schools in 2022 in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings,
first again among St. Lucie County public high schools,
as well as 42nd in Florida for public high schools with at least
Pierce, now 78, was a career social worker who then earned
a doctorate and taught at Barry University. His mother, Eva
Elizabeth Pierce, who went by E. Elizabeth Pierce or E.E.
Pierce, taught English at Lincoln Park from 1930 to 1963, the
year she died. She was instrumental in the formation of the
school newspaper, and its yearbook, The Moon.
The Pierces are among many families with multigenerational
links to LPA. In addition to the writers who were covered
in classes at white high schools, E.E. Pierce taught from
the works of African American authors such as Langston
Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was a substitute
teacher for a short while at LPA in the late 1950s and lived >>
Quite a few families can boast of having multiple generations linked to LPA. One such family includes, left to right, Josie Cherry Lamb, Class of 1954,
daughter Stephanie Gaskin, who has been on the LPA faculty since 1997, and Stephanie’s daughter, Fort Pierce attorney Aisha Nash, Class of 2004.