Yeatman Liddell College Preparatory Middle School has a rich history steeped in educational equity, social justice and community. Named in honor of Mr. James Yeatman and Mr. Craton Liddell, the school opened its doors in 1967 to provide excellent middle school instruction to scholars focused on post-secondary goals.
James Yeatman moved from Bedford County, Tennessee in 1842 to St. Louis, Missouri. He was an industrialist and founder of the Merchants’ Bank. However, it was his contributions to the community that are his most lasting legacy. He founded the Mercantile Library in 1846, and helped establish it in the original building at Fourth and Locust streets. He served as the Library’s first president.
In the 1850’s Yeatman was inspired by a teacher of the blind named Eli W. Whelan to found the Missouri Institute for the Education of the Blind. In 1853, along with Dr. William Greenleaf Eliot, he founded Washington University in St. Louis. A patron of art and music, Yeatman founded and became president in 1859 of the St. Louis Philharmonic Society. He then founded a Provident Association to integrate the city’s charities. Over the years, he became known as a charitable man, one always ready to give his time and money to public causes.
Craton Liddell (b. January 3, 1959—December 06, 2002) was a young student that attended four schools in five years due to racial tension and overcrowding. Minnie Liddell (1939-2004) grew tired and frustrated for all her children and decided to fight back. On February 18, 1972, Liddell and several other parents filed a class-action lawsuit cited as Liddell v. Saint Louis Board of Education. During this time, Minnie and her husband, Charles Liddell (1932-2002), decided to withdraw all four of their children out of the system and homeschooled them for an entire year. Growing up in O’Fallon Park district in Saint Louis, Mo, on the 4600 block of Carter Avenue, The Liddell family did not find stability until they all attended Yeatman Elementary School due to a temporary compromise of the case. Craton graduated from Yeatman in 1974. Craton’s life was fulfilled along with other children in the neighborhood to attend a brand new school with better conditions. The 1972 lawsuit paved the way as one of the largest desegregation lawsuits in American history. As Craton got older, he made it his life’s mission to give back to the students that came after him to continue the fight to improve the city of Saint Louis’ education system. His mission was cut short when he passed away on December 6, 2002. Yeatman-Liddell Middle School was renamed in his honor a short time thereafter.
Craton Liddell's Parents
From the Journal of Law and Policy: