The school we know today as Simmons-Pinckney Middle has gone through many iterations during its history. The building itself was built in 1949 to educate African-American children in grades 1-7. At the time, the school was named A. Burnett Rhett Elementary. The facility remained an elementary school until the late 1970’s when Rhett Elementary switched to offering only middle level classes and was renamed Rhett Middle School. In 1982, the school was relocated to a facility on Rutledge Street, but lasted just 3 years before it was closed. Between 2005 and 2012, middle school students were served in the Rhett building once again; this time under the name Burke A+ Academy. In 2012, the school became known as Burke Middle. A decision was made in 2016 to rename the institution, and to do so in honor and in memorial of two great African American gentlemen of Charleston, Phillip Simmons and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Mr. Simmons was a blacksmith and iron worker whose artistry can be seen all over the city. The Rev. Clementa Pinckney pastored the Mother Emmanuel AME, dying during the horrific massacre of the church in 2015. He was also an impassioned civil rights activist and state senator.
Special thanks to Mr. Linard McCloud, Director of Bands, Burke High School, Charleston, SC