The school was named after the great educator, Robert Russa Moton, whose history is depicted in this section of our website, Robert Russa Moton.
In the aftermath, of the Civil War, the federal Freedmen’s Bureau sponsored a school on Port Street for black children which would become the first black public school in Easton. The Talbot Board of County School Commissioners began administering its operations in 1870 by appointing a Board of Trustees and naming it the Easton Colored School. Two years later, the Maryland Assembly enacted the State School Law of 1872 which obligated the counties to provide equal provisions for black and white schools. This law was one of many segregation or Jim Crow laws passed in the South during the Reconstruction Period. They enforced strict separation of races while appearing to protect the rights of blacks guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In 1896 the United States Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana segregation law in Plessy v. Ferguson, thereby affirming the separate but equal doctrine.
The conditions, however, were not equal between white and black schools. In 1916, the State Educational Survey Commission reported that the Port Street School was one of the poorest buildings in the state. That year a delegation from the Easton Colored School appeared before the Board of County School Commissioners and presented a plan to raise $1000 to aid in the erection of a new building. Following several delays, construction began in 1918 and the new building was dedicated on Friday, February 21, 1919.
On November 21, 1937, the Easton Colored School was renamed and dedicated in honor of Robert Russa Moton. “ Ole Moton ‘ now consisted of five buildings on Port Street and one on Higgins. They housed an elementary school, high school, industrial arts facility, and home cottage.
After building a new school on Glenwood Avenue in 1953, the Board of Education closed the Port Street School. The property was sold in1959.
Located on Higgins Street behind the Asbury M. E. Church, “ The Tabernacle” served as the Moton gymnasium. Its dilapidated condition illustrates the inferior facilities provided for the County’s black students. Despite inferior athletic facilities, Moton athletes excelled in competition. Many of the teams won state championships, like the 1946 soccer team.
Vocational education was an important part of the Moton curriculum. Shown here is the interior of the industrial arts shop, which was located about 1 1/2 blocks from the main building on Port Street.
Overcrowded classrooms and insufficient textbooks at Moton illustrated the inequities between black and white schools in a segregated system.
The annual N. F. A. and N.H.A. Fair sponsored by the Agriculture and Home Economics Departments was a popular event that attracted students, parents, and other members of the community. Each year the New Farmers of America and the New Homemakers of America erected exhibits and competed for prizes donated by businessmen of Easton and Talbot County as well as the State Fair Board. Exhibits from the Home Economics Department included canned goods, pastries, needlework, floral arrangements, and crafts. The Agriculture Department exhibited poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, livestock, and field crops. In addition, the two groups presented a program in conjunction with the Fair that featured lectures on such topics as “ Modern Procedures for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables.”
The Robert Russa Moton Junior/senior High School on Glenwood Avenue opened in 1953. This school was dedicated on Sunday, November 15, 1953. One year later, the United States Supreme Court handed down the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision asserting the unconstitutionality of racial segregation. In response, Talbot County gave black students “free-choice” to attend formerly all white schools. But few did and Moton continued to operate as an all black school until 1967 when the Talbot County system was fully integrated. For the next two years, the building housed the Easton Middle School. It was then closed for renovations and reopened in 1972 as the Talbot County Vocational –Technical Center under the direction of Theodore J. Henson, a former Moton teacher. The building then became the Glenwood Intermediate School. However, due to overcrowding problems, the building underwent extensive renovations beginning in 1990. In 1991 it opened as the Easton Elementary School.
Athletics played an important role at Robert Russa Moton junior/Senior High School, teaching discipline, teamwork, and the value of fair and honest competition. Athletes excelled in volleyball, baseball, field hockey, track and field, cross-country. However, the most successful team was boy’s basketball. Between 1953 and 1967 the Moton Tigers won five state and nine district championships.
Direction for the basketball team came from two outstanding coaches: Marion J. Waller and Roger Bryan. Waller, a coach until 1955, amassed a record of 121 wins, district championships, one state championship, and only 27 losses in seven years. Coach Bryan succeeded Waller and remained until the school closed in 1967. Coach Bryan filled his players with desire to win, but equally important, stressed the importance of athletics.
Two players from Moton pursued basketball professionally. Walt Hazzard played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Richard Milbourne was drafted by the Detroit Pistons. In addition several players went on to become coaches and teachers, underscoring the influence of an athletic program which inspired pride in self, school, and community.
The accomplishments of Moton’s students pay tribute to the commitment of the school staff a commitment that was epitomized by the dedication of William H. Fauntleroy and Mrs. Ruth Early.
Mr. Fauntleroy was a devoted educator who began his teaching in Talbot County in 1926. Before retiring in 1969, he had served as teacher, elementary school principal, supervisor of Colored Schools, and principal of Moton and Easton High Schools and taught courses in African-American studies and general history. The leadership inspired hard work and pride in the faculty as well as students.
Moton provided students with a solid academic foundation while offering diverse extracurricular activities. Besides athletics, students joined the Band, Glee Club, New Farmers of America, New Homemakers of America to name a few. Moton scholars participated in job fairs, conferences on professional training, and state and nationwide contests such as Voice of Democracy. In 1959 a chapter of the National Honor Society was formed at Moton, Many graduates attended institutions of higher education including Maryland State College, Bowie State College, Morgan State College, Hampton Institute, and Tuskegee Institute. Other graduates entered the armed forces or applied skills to jobs in the community.