In honor of Black History Month, we share the stories of two notable individuals who are important to our Springfield community.
Miss Lena Bransford, was a pioneer African-American educator and the namesake of Bransford Elementary, Bransford High School, and the future Bransford Community Center in Springfield. She was arguably the most important educator for the African-American community in Springfield and Robertson County. Born in 1870, she was the daughter of former slaves who had settled in Springfield post-Civil War. Miss Lena, through grit and determination, went on to further her education and graduate from college when higher education for women in the South was not only a rarity but nearly unheard of for African-American women.
John L. Patterson was a pioneer of education for the African-American community in Springfield and Robertson County. He served as principal for Bransford High School from 1939 -1970. He helped "guide the ship" for the African-American community in Springfield from the Jim Crow-era of racism through the birth of the Civil Rights movement up until the full integration of Robertson County Schools in 1970. All the while, he led Bransford High School to become one of the finest African-American high schools in Tennessee. While Bransford High School closed in 1970 and Mr. Patterson retired from education, he remained a vibrant and influential leader in the community until his passing. Mr. Patterson’s legacy lives today through his many students and their descendants as well as his namesake street in Springfield.
A special thank you to Mr. Danny Atchley with the Robertson County Historical Society for providing this biographic information on both Miss Bransford and Mr. Patterson.