Moorhead High School’s first African American graduate to be honored

MOORHEAD — When she graduated as a Spud in 1927, Cordelia Julia Blount left a mark on the school and Fargo-Moorhead.

Deep in the history books of the Clay County Museum, Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County archivist Mark Piehl finds the treasure.

The Moorhead High School yearbook for 1927.

“She’s right here,” Piehl said, pointing to the yearbook and to Cordelia Blount, Moorhead’s first African American graduate.

Nobody is sure how or why the family from Atlanta came to Moorhead, but they wanted their children to get a good education.


The risk was still high around the county, even in Clay County where a Klu Klux Klan rally was held at the Moorhead Armory just two years after Blount graduated from Moorhead.

“She had to overcome considerable difficulties to get where she was. Her father worked as a janitor to put her through high school and college,” Piehl said.

Blount went on to do great things. She was a college professor and became Dean of Women at Paine College. Her uncle was a close adviser to Martin Luther King, and gave the eulogy at his funeral.

“A hundred years ago, Cordelia was a student in our school district, the 1920s — way before the 1960s — and for Cordelia and her mom and dad to have lived here, I think it is amazing,” Brian Cole, Moorhead Legacy Foundation member and school historian, said.

After 33 years away from Moorhead, Blount came back here to visit classmates. By now, she had already left a mark. And it all started here in Moorhead.

“Our community continues to grow as a diverse community, and we don’t know when the next Cordelia is going to come through. They could have been in my classroom earlier today, and we always have to be open to those nudges where our students are at,” Cole said.

A total of four graduates and two former employees will be honored at the special Moorhead High School Hall of Honor Inductee Brunch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Moorhead Area Public Schools Operations Center.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at , by calling 218-284-2345 or emailing .

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