Christine Benton Cash, teacher, administrator, and civil-rights activist, was born on August 9, 1889, in the New Zion Baptist Church community, eight miles southwest of Jefferson in Marion County, Texas, the second child of James and Kizzia (Dotson) Benton. She attended Central Elementary School in Jefferson from 1898 to 1902 and Bishop College Academy in Marshall from 1902 to 1906; she was the first honor graduate of both the normal school and the scientific college preparatory department of the academy. Upon completion of county and state examinations, she began her professional career with a contract to teach in a one-room school in Marion County. For five years she taught in rural schools, during which time she successfully lobbied to lengthen the school year for black children from five to eight months.
In 1909 she married Larry Brown Cash of Pittsburg, Texas, with whom she had two sons. At the time of their marriage Larry Cash was principal of the Center Point school, ten miles east of Pittsburg. He was the state treasurer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and later left the teaching profession for the ministry. In 1911, when he resigned as principal of the Center Point school, Christine took his place. The following year planning began for a community high school. In 1916 a building was erected that had five classrooms and an industrial lab. Financing came from a bond issue and local subscription. The school comprised eleven grades in 1918, and in 1928 it became a state-accredited school with twelve grades. Cash continued as principal of the school until 1949. By 1937 the Center Point Training School had an enrollment of 289 students, representing seven counties in Northeast Texas. Monthly tuition was paid in specie or in kind, and students could defray part of their expenses by working at the school. The school had ten teachers, a fourteen-acre campus, and six buildings, all but one of them built by the students. Facilities included a library, which was open to the public, a cannery, a farm shop, and a home economics building. The school raised crops on its own acreage and on other land that it rented. During Cash's tenure the value of the physical plant increased from $100 to $100,000. She was responsible for the installation of rural electrification; health, sanitation, and home-improvement projects; and cultural enrichment programs. She encouraged the intermediate-grade teachers to institute extracurricular reading programs for students. Those who read thirty books during the year received reading certificates. When the books on the state-approved list did not interest the students, she asked for and received permission to include books about African Americans. As a result more students entered the program and received reading certificates. (seeEDUCATION FOR AFRICAN AMERICANSandVOCATIONAL EDUCATION)
Christine Cash attended the summer session at Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1919, 1922, and 1923. She attended Bishop College in 1925–26, and received her B.A. She earned an M.A. degree from Atlanta University in 1943 and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1947, thus becoming one of the first Texas-born black women to earn a doctorate. In 1948 she was a member of the statewide legislative committee that initiated public school reforms (seeGILMER-AIKEN LAWS). From 1951 to 1955 she participated in the Southwestern Cooperative Project in Education Administration. From 1948 to 1958 she taught education and sociology at Bishop College, where she served as secretary of the graduate division of education. From 1958 to 1965 she taught at Jarvis Christian College; she was chairman of the division of social sciences from 1958 to 1960 and chairman of the division of teacher education and certification from 1962 to 1965. A serious automobile accident in 1966 forced her to retire from her professional duties at Jarvis. She spent her last years in Marshall, writing her autobiography, "Confrontation, Conflict, Conquest."
Christine Cash was a member of Pi Lambda Theta (an honor society for women in education), Delta Sigma Theta, the National Education Association, the American Teachers Association, the Teachers State Association of Texas, the National Council of Teachers of Social Studies, the National Society for the Study of Education, the Association of Social Science Teachers, the American Association of University Women, and the American Association of University Professors. She served as a trustee of Bishop College, as recording secretary for the Northeast Texas Baptist Women's Convention, and as statistical secretary for the Baptist Women's Missionary and Educational Convention of Texas. In 1942 she listed her political affiliation as Republican.
She was awarded the title of Piper Professor in 1960 by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. In 1962 she received a plaque from the Teachers State Association of Texas recognizing her distinguished career and contributions in the field of education. In 1966 she and her husband were honored at a testimonial dinner. She was named educator of the year by Upsilon Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta in 1968 and outstanding educator by the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta in 1969. In 1969 she also received the Distinguished Service Award from Bishop College. The Longview branch of the NAACP gave her a plaque recognizing her many decades of service. Christine Cash died in Harris County on December 12, 1988.
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Effie Kaye Adams, Tall Black Texans: Men of Courage (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt, 1972). Dallas Morning News, June 13, 1937. Who's Who in American Education, 23d ed. Who's Who in Colored America, 6th ed.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Cash, Christine Benton,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
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