The Harper children attended Coleman High School. Prior to integration, Coleman High educated African-American students from 1st to 12th grade. Below is some historical information about Coleman College and Coleman High School.
Coleman College and Gibsland-Coleman High School
The first African-American institution for higher learning in North Louisiana was founded in 1887 by Professor O. L. Coleman in Gibsland, Louisiana. At its inception, the school offered courses for 1st through 8th grade. Eight students were enrolled. Out of Professor Coleman's original efforts, Coleman College was born.
After the donation of a 10-acre tract of land, the school was moved in 1889 to a wood frame building on the site where Gibsland-Coleman Complex is currently located. The first classes consisted of students in their 30’s and 40’s. The students' tuition was sometimes paid with produce from the family farm.
In 1908, the first brick buildings were constructed. The bricks were manufactured from red clay present on the site. The brickmaker was from Mansfield, Louisiana and he was assisted by students and citizens of Gibsland.
At the height of its existence, Coleman College owned some 100 acres. There were eight buildings which included classrooms, dormitories, auditoriums and an administration building. The curriculum included courses in algebra, geometry, chemistry, Latin and English. Enrollment reached as high as 400 students some years, and Coleman College graduated hundreds of educators and other professionals before closing its doors in 1937. Extracurricular activities included the Coleman College Choir, a glee club and intercollegiate athletics. The Coleman College Bulldogs chief rival was the Grambling College Tigers.
Coleman College moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and served as a bible college. Decreased enrollment caused the school to go out of existence in the mid-1950s.
A few years after the closing of oleman College, the original site was acquired by the Bienville Parish School System and named Gibsland Colored High School. Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to Coleman High School and in 1970 it was renamed Gibsland-Coleman High School after full integration with the all white Gibsland High School. The school’s name was subsequently changed again to Gibsland-Coleman School Complex.
There have been countless distinguished alumni to graduate from Coleman College and Coleman High School who have gone on to make significant contributions to society. The Harper family is very proud to be a part of the Coleman legacy, the Home of the Bulldogs.
On February 7, 2014, a large marker was unveiled at the Gibsland-Coleman School Complex dedicated to Coleman College. The Harper family members who graduated from (then) Coleman High School made a generous contribution to assist in erecting this historical marker.