Minutes: Friday, April 11, 2014

Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, April 11, 2014

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, April 11, 2014, at 10:15 a.m. at Stephens Lee Alumni Center in Asheville.

Attending were: Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Pauline & Edwin Cheek, Sandra Tolley, Sarah Hart, Eugene Jones, Teresa & Ryan Phillips, Charity Ray, Oralene Simmons, Les Reker, and Simone Bouyer.

Fatimah welcomed everyone who attended. David & Willa were unable to attend. Willa sent a page of notes to share with the group, recapped here in brief: Madison Memories will be published by the Sentinel, should we be included? Should the group set future dates for meetings in Asheville? An African American Commission has been created by the city of Asheville. Members are appointed by the city. Note from Sarah Hart: All seats on the commission have been filled. Sarah’s daughter in-law is on the commission. The group acknowledged the work David and Willa have done for the Anderson Rosenwald School project.

The group discussed future uses for Asheville’s YMI Cultural Center. Currently houses the museum, offices, and cultural center. Might become a multi-cultural center, not an African American center. Patricia Green is on the board of the YMI.

A group of seniors visited the Rosenwald School, then went to see the exhibit at the rural Life Museum. The group donated $27 to our project. The book, “Schools of Hope,” donated by Oralene, will be included in the Rural Life Museum exhibit. The exhibit will be on display for six months. Ryan has offered to scan images for use in the exhibit.

Corrections to the minutes from March: Oralene does not have a photo of the Allen School. The correct spelling is Allen, not Alan. Oralene is searching for photos of students. The corrected minutes were accepted. Charity has all of the yearbooks from the Allen School.

Bios are needed from committee members and alumni. The 88 key piano currently in the school is too deteriorated for use in the exhibit. Fatimah has a similar piano.

Oral Histories: Ryan hopes to videotape interviews today. More alumni interviews are needed. The current videos have been sent to Mars Hill University for transcription. Pauline has eight or ten interviews which she donated to the university. They include Manuel Briscoe, Charlene Ray and other members of the community. Rev. Smith from Sylva was also interviewed. Oralene has the history of the Mt. Olive church, which will be scanned.

Karen Parr invited the group to attend a lecture, “Giving Voice to Our Stories: An Oral History Journey,” with historian Kelly Elaine Navies, on Tuesday, April 15 at Mars Hill University. Can our group meet at the MHU library to go through the archives for any materials related to the school? Can Richard Dillingham arrange this?

Media: The illustrated history of the school must be accurate, and it needs to include information about Booker T. Washington. A tax id number, and 501c3 status is needed for people to be able to make tax deductible donations to the project. We are currently using Madison County schools for donations. Simone has created a display board detailing the expenses to restore the school. The board was on display at the Mars Hill and Marshall libraries. It can be used to generate interest and donations.

The historic Vance birthplace will host an exhibit in June for Juneteenth. The Rosenwald school display board can be placed there. An alumni and class night will be held July 4-6 for Stephens Lee. We can also place the display board there. Their alumni group holds meetings the second Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. Can Sarah invite alumni to attend our meetings?

Can a display be shown at the I-26 Welcome Center? We would need to get permission. To display items at the Mars Hill Visitors Center you must be a member of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Simone has offered to pay for our group to join the Chamber.

Fundraising:. Ryan investigated the Indiegogo online fundraising system, which can be used to raise funds for anything. The program takes a 4% commission from all donations received. He suggests we host two campaigns: one for the museum exhibit and one for the restoration of the school. Each campaign is given 30 days to meet the fundraising goal. We would need to promote the campaign to all alumni. What items can we give as perks? Simone spoke with Sue Ann Foster, who has a button making machine and supplies. She is willing to loan these items to the group as a way for us to generate funds. We could make buttons with images of the school, Charity’s painting of the school and church, Billy Strayhorn, or other notable African Americans.

We could host a celebration for all donors. Donor’s names can also be listed on a wall at the Rosenwald school. Stephens Lee has a similar wall. These details need to be included in the promotional package. Thank you letters and receipts should also be sent to all donors. All campaigns will bring more awareness to the project and the history of the community. The online campaign will connect and promote our project to an international community.

For the campaign a short 3 to 5 minute introductory video is needed. The video should address why we are restoring the school. Work on the video will begin soon. At our next meeting we should be prepared to speak on video about the reasons we support this project. A banner promoting the Indiegogo campaign can be added to our website.

Letterhead is needed for an introductory letter in the promotional package, and to send thank you letters to donors. Simone’s neighbors, the Hargadons, donated a photo archiving system to the group. The box is made to store and preserve old photos. Fatimah and Omar can donate greeting cards. Cards could be sold in packs of four or five. These cards would otherwise be destroyed after the holidays have passed. They are nice cards which could be used by our group for fundraising.

Construction: No report. Privies need to be built. A frame is needed for the blackboard.

Board Development: Willa needs names of people willing to be on the Mars Hill Rosenwald School board.

Exhibition: Les Reker, director of the Rural Life Museum is excited to be honoring the school. Les was interviewed by the Laurel of Asheville and the Mountain Xpress. MHU is interested in working with our group on fundraising for the exhibition.

Les  spoke with Dr. Lunsford at MHU. The exhibit will be broader than just the history of the building. It will encompass black history, Rosenwald Schools, and the African American community. The exhibit will be a way of preserving history and sharing our stories about the school, Mt. Olive Church, the choir, the community, and the families who lived there. The period covered is from 1930 to 1965. Objects are needed to display. Legitimate or similar to the original. Desks from the time period will be included.

A title is needed for the exhibition. It should be poetic, and is usually two parts: a clever title plus a description. “Schools of Hope” is a good example. “Our story, this place” doesn’t identify who is telling the story. Send your ideas to Les. The current exhibit is entitled “Interwoven: Madison’s Discovery of Folk Art.”

The Rosenwald exhibition will open in the fall, sometime near or during MHU’s homecoming, or founder’s day in October. Not during the Heritage Festival. Perhaps close to the Mt. Olive homecoming the first weekend in September. All alumni should be invited. There will be a reception and guest speakers, music, food, and a large tent outdoors on the campus of MHU. Inside there will be banners, mounted photos, artifacts from the school, and earphones to listen to choir music from the time period. On the right will be a theater for watching the video interviews. Two museum attendants will give tours, help visitors, and answer questions.

Objects for the display include: a privy; oak desk with ink well; chalkboard with frame; a cloak rack, which is spikes on a board; children’s coats (similar to or from the 1950s); a small stage about 6” tall, either built or found; a water bucket and dipper (white enamel); a coal stove (searching for this); a scuttle bucket of coal (found in basement of MHU); the alphabet (searching for a banner or individual cards from the 50/60s); any books, flash cards; axe and kindling; a paddle (from a bolo bat or similar). The windows can be decorated for the season; perhaps Madison county school children can recreate the types of cutouts that were displayed. Ryan found a hectograph machine online; mint condition from Canada.

The story is important, not the actual age of the item if it is similar to items used during that time period. Books, county books, list of teachers and students needed. Oralene has a list of the teachers. Other suggestions for items related the school are sought. Awards, ribbons, jump ropes, herbs, salves, plants, medicine bottles could be displayed. Was any other equipment used at the school, such as film strips, cameras (Brownie’s), slide projectors?

Oralene brought pictures, obituaries, and other stories to be scanned. The scanned items will be made into panels. There were kings and queens for each class. Oralene was queen, she raised $3; Harold Kunley (sp?) was king. Funds raised were used for window shades for the school. Nurse Irene Holcombe (sp?) administered shots to students for small pox and typhoid. Oralene brought her Mars Hill College jacket for use in the exhibition.

Richard will help with narration. The exhibition will be thorough, not comprehensive. It should be exciting, lots of visuals, not alot of text to read. Invite alumni to bring items to be scanned. Items can be brought to the Rural Life Museum, Tuesday-Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Donors will be given a receipt. All items loaned for the exhibition will be kept secure and labeled “courtesy of donors name”. Dates and names are needed for all items.

After the exhibition at the Rural Life Museum closes, all materials will go the school. The exhibition could also travel. Our group could rent it out. It would need to be insured, crated and packed in foam.

Can we get an historical marker for the school at Main Street and 213 in Mars Hill, or on I-26? The building would need to be secured beforehand. Fatimah knows a security expert who can help secure the school. Windows are first on the list of needs for restoration.

The group broke for lunch around 11:30. Lunch was provided thanks to donations. The group enjoyed cheese, meat, crackers, grapes, salads and spreads, and tea. Other alumni arrived to visit the Stephens Lee center. Teresa and Ryan videotaped several interviews.

The next meeting of the exhibition committee will be held Tuesday, April 29 at 10 a.m. at the Rural Life  Museum. The next meeting of the Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will be held Friday, May 9, at 10 a.m at Mt Olive Church in Mars Hill.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer