On March 5th, 1959, 21 black teenagers were burned to death at the Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville, Arkansas after their dorm was padlocked from the outside & mysteriously caught fire.
The unfortunate incident and it’s victims has come to be known simply as the Wrightsville 21.
The old, run-down, & low-funded facility, just 15 minutes south of Little Rock, housed 69 teens from ages 13-17.
Most were either homeless or incarcerated for petty crimes such as stealing bikes & doing Halloween pranks. 48 boys managed to escape the fire.
Some said the fire could have ignited from faulty wiring, but locals & experts who examined the case believe it was murder.
The Arkansas State Commission awarded $2,500 to the estates of each of the 21 boys. No one was ever indicted.
Victims: Amos Gyce, 16; Frank Barnes, 15; R.D. Brown, 16; Jessie Carpenter Jr., 16; Joe Crittenden,16, John Daniel, 16; Willie G. Horner, 16; Roy Chester Powell, 16; Cecil Preston, 17; Carl E. Thornton, 15; Johnnie Tillison, 16.
The others were Edward Tolston Jr., 15; Charles White, 15. William Piggee, 13, O.T. Meadows, 13; Henry Daniels, 15; John Alfred George, 15; Roy Hegwood, 15; Willie Lee Williams, 15; Lindsey Cross, 14; Charles L. Thomas, 15