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Lester C. Lamon

Born on September 26, 1876, in the eastern Tennessee hamlet of Retro, William Jasper Hale spent his formative years in close association with white paternalism. Because there was no public education for rural blacks, he obtained the basic essentials of learning in the Quaker and Northern Presbyterian-supported schools in Maryville, Tennessee. Although his training was limited, Hale had influential white contacts in Chattanooga. These contacts not only ensured him initial employment, but also served as the foundation upon which he built his career. After starting in a small black elementary school, Hale soon parlayed his outstanding administrative talents and his white connections into the most important black post in the Chattanooga system: principal of the black Saint Elmo secondary school. Still, neither his ambitions nor his talents had been fully extended.

When the 1909 state legislature provided for the founding of an Agricultural and Industrial State Normal ...