Friends of the Library to Host Program About John Bate, Danville African-American Educator

February 10, 2017

In celebration of Black History Month, the Friends of the Library will host James H. Atkins on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Library. Atkins will present a program about John William Bate, an educator for African-American students in Danville for more than 55 years.

Born a slave in 1854, Bate's family was given their freedom in 1862. He attended Berea College in the late 1800s, then came to Danville to teach in a one-room school. Over the years, Bate transformed the school into an accredited standard high school, growing the shanty school building to a building with twenty rooms, including an auditorium with seating for 700. When the Danville Schools integrated in 1964, Bate High School became Bate Junior High. In 1978 a new building was constructed behind the site of the original school and Danville Bate Middle School opened. 

About the presenter: J.H. Atkins is a retired educator, having spent much of his career as a teacher and principal in the Danville Independent Schools system. Most recently he spearheaded diversity and expansion of student opportunities for learning at Centre College. He was instrumental in creating a community organization to improve tolerance and human relations that continues today. Atkins continues his interest in civic affairs as a Danville City commissioner.