NKU students help preserve alumni’s memories of historic Newport school

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Written by WCPO’s Jasmine Styles

The only school for Black children in Campbell County before integration now has something new to keep its legacy going. A group of Northern Kentucky University students decided to do a class project on the history of the Southgate Street School using stories from alumni.

“It was an adventure when I came here,” Southgate Street School alum Robert Ingguls said.

Schoolhouse walls can’t talk, but luckily, 90-year-old Ingguls can. He told stories of his time there from first through eighth grade, like the time his classmates had to take an aptitude test and have scores compared to the school that only admitted white students.

“Everyone was astounded because we attained higher grades than the other white school,” Ingguls said.

Decades later, NKU students in an art class were contemplating their semester project. Junior Liz Farwick said her teacher was explaining the subjects they could cover when they discussed the story of the Southgate Street School.

“When he was talking about this, I knew I wanted to do it,” Farwick said.

The school in Campbell County. Photo provided | WCPO

Farwick was in charge of contacting Ingguls and another alum of the school. After multiple interviews, Farwick’s team had to find a way to whittle down nearly a decade of school days stories into an 86-page book with several AI images the students curated.

“I remember staying up really late one night watching an interview and my whole page was covered in notes,” Farwick said.

Although Ingguls said he’s not one to be in the limelight, he feels honored his stories help keep the history of the Southgate Street School alive, one page at a time.

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“If I can help someone along the way, that’s my motto, then my living will not be in vain,” he said.

“The Legacy of Southgate Street School: Preserving a Landmark of the Black History of Newport, Kentucky” is on sale on Amazon. The proceeds go back to preservation efforts to keep the building in good condition. It’s now a museum with several artifacts donated by Ingguls.

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