LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Lockport Board of Education made it official on Wednesday. Starting next fall, North Park Junior High School will take the name of the man who led desegregation efforts in the Lock city in the late 1800s.
Sixth through eighth-graders will return from summer break to Aaron Mossell Junior High School.
The Mossell family moved to Lockport from Hamilton, Ontario in the late 1800s. Mossell started working as a day laborer, taught himself how to read, write and within 10 years, was operating a brick-making business that was one of the most successful in the state.
Mossell eventually donated bricks to build churches in the area and sold the bricks at a discount for Lockport Schools to build a high school. But Mossell’s own son couldn’t attend because he was black.
Mossell protested and fought, until Lockport Schools became the first in the state to desegregate in 1876, nearly 80 years before the supreme court’s ultimate decision.
Niagara County’s Deputy Historian Craig Bacon helped to lead the initiative. Two years ago, the district renamed the library inside North Park Junior High after Aaron Mossell.
The school sits on the land that was once part of Mossell’s eight acre brick-making operation.