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The Lost Story of Wrightsville 21: Teenage Black Boys Burned Alive in 1959





The Mystery Death of "The Wrightsville 21". It's the lost story of the 'Arkansas Secret Holocaust' in which 69 teenage Black Boys were pad locked inside the Wrightsville Negro Boys Industrial School Dormitory and the building mysteriously caught fire, 48 boys were able to force steel screens off one window and escape 21 were burned alive in which 14 of the 21 boys were found stacked in a pile by a window. This is the worst fire ever on record in Arkansas History. 

In 1959 Arkansas had been in the forefront of the desegregation era. The actions of then Governor Orval Faubus made national headlines with his blatant public refusal to obey the Brown vs. The Board of Education laws and his use of the military to refuse the "Little Rock Nine" entry into Little Rock Central High School for the 1957-58 era. But little is known of the events that followed.
The following School Year 1958-59 was named "The Lost Year", the year Gov. Faubus closed all High Schools to keep from segregating the schools and he along with his personnel physician, Dr T.J. Raney opened the Private School Corporation to keep schools segregated and who's board members directly benefited from the immediate sale of the land on which the Boys School once stood. 


No cause for the fire has ever been determined, also no one was ever convicted of any wrong doing even though it was determined to be negligence by the state. The boys were never properly Identified or buried, their is no marker to mark the mass grave where these boys were supposedly buried and the families were never properly informed of the location of the remains or properly compensated. To date Arkansas still denies these family's the right to exhume and DNA test the remains.


Almost 60 years after the horrific fire, you won’t find a grave marker for the boys who died, nor will you find an official cause of the fire. 





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