Abandoned as a school in the late 1960s, Harjo Consolidated Dist. No. 5 became one more statistic in the decay of the American education system. Institutions like Harjo once were, and often still are, staples in rural communities and among those that served African Americans, Native Americans, the disenfranchised, and the poor.
As these institutions closed, many students found themselves forced to travel significant distances to continue their education or forgo it altogether. Harjo was no different, offering services to several cities within the locale.
Conceived during Oklahoma’s oil boom, Harjo was hailed as one of the finest schools of its kind by the late 1920s. However, the institution faltered almost as quickly as it rose. Many remaining alumni have fond memories during their tenure at Harjo, but as time passes, their numbers dwindle, and the institution fades.
Not without effort, attempts to repurpose the facility have been implemented, though Harjo never returned to its full glory.
This is a pictorial documentary of Harjo, and it is one of many tales of America’s struggle with inequality and the education system.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Jake Durham, an Oklahoma-based fine art photographer and author, has had photographic works featured by the Professional Photographers of America, Oklahoma Today Magazine, The Oklahoma Gazette, and other local publications. Jake has also authored photographic books, and he is a certified professional photographer. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, he spent most of his career as a pilot before going back to school to earn a doctorate in education. He now works as a university professor, and he spends his free time teaching and sharing his passion for photography. Jake currently resides in Konawa, Oklahoma, with his two children.