Adah Fulbright: The Heart of Education and Community

Adah Fulbright was born in 1873 in Springfield. Her ancestors arrived enslaved in Springfield with the white Fulbright family and they built the first log cabin in the area. Fulbright received her secondary education and graduated from the original Lincoln School in 1891. After she graduated from high school, she went on to attend Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City and Kansas State Teachers College, before returning to Springfield. She taught at both of the Lincoln Schools, colloquially referred to as “Old Lincoln” and “New Lincoln,” before retiring in 1948 at the age of 75 years old. She was the first Black teacher to retire from the Springfield Public Schools.

Fulbright has often been remembered as a lover of literature, music, and community. These passions influenced many of her involvements in local organizations and clubs. In 1928 she helped found the Literary Calm Chat Club, an organization comprised of Black educators in Springfield who would meet to share studies of literature and art. She also formed an elementary school band, was the chairman for the Lincoln School Red Cross Drive, and was a supervisor for the Gibson Chapel Presbyterian vacation bible school program during the summer.

Adah Fulbright passed away on August 26, 1959 at the age of 86.  Her importance to education in Springfield was memorialized by Springfield Public Schools by the naming of the Adah Fulbright Early Childhood Center, which opened in August 2020 next to George Washington Carver Middle School.

Written by Elisabeth Barber, 2023.