The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, November 8, 2013, in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David and Willa Wyatt, Sandra Tolley, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Ryan Phillips, Theresa Phillips, Richard Dillingham, Charity Ray, Dorothy Ray, Dorothy Rapp, Melanie Allen, Joy Kish, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed Melanie Allen from the Conservation Trust for NC. Melanie drove in from Raleigh to join us. The minutes for October 2013 were corrected as follows: natural science – cotton was not grown in our area; history – research news articles in the News Record, not the Sentinel; Alan Smith student project to research the natural history of the Long Ridge community; fundraising – spelling of Willa; Annie McDonald of the NC Department of Cultural Resources; MHU will host a Rosenwald network conference. With a motion from Teresa and a second from Dorothy Rapp, all present approved the corrected minutes.
A Rosenwald school regional advisory group has been formed. The group includes the 25 counties in the Blue Ridge Heritage area. A volunteer is helping organize and contact each county that has a Rosenwald school. MHU will host the first regional Rosenwald School Network Conference. Networks are in place in the east and nationally. Melanie will be working with Willa and Annie McDonald on the details. Willa and Melanie will meet with Annie after our meeting.
Conservation Trust Presentation: Introductions were made around the table. Margaret Newbold, the director of the Conservation Trust, says hello. Melanie was excited to join us; she congratulated the group on the progress we have made. The Rosenwald conference held in Edenton was the first NC Rosenwald conference. The Conservation trust handles land protection and supports 23 local land trusts. The group is also part of the NC Rosenwald network and is working to preserve the legacy of the Rosenwald school. They began as a partnership with several other NC groups. They provide information for NC groups, connect all groups, learn from each other, and provide a central location for meetings. When groups meet we learn from each other, re-energize, and amplify the work that each group is undertaking. There are lots of interesting projects. The Rosenwald school in Asheboro provides affordable housing; it took 13 years to complete. Some schools are museums, some are community centers. Melanie shared several handouts with our group: The Grassroots Guide to Preserving Rosenwald Schools, and protecting and storing historical treasures. There are more Rosenwald schools located in the east, with fewer schools in our area. The Land Trust funds projects. Grant opportunities will open in September for small grants ($500-$10,000).
There is an interest in tying our school to the land. The land helps tell the story of the school. How did students get to school? A walking trail could be included as part of the project. Great way to enjoy the outdoors space. What did students eat? A garden will engage youth, is perfect for the summer, and links the community to the site. These are great ways to tell our story since the building isn’t ready, and will encourage people to visit the site. The Dixie Highway goes right by the school property. Henry Ford took the highway into Asheville. Dr. Underwood had an historic marker placed at the corner of the county courthouse. This is a great connection to the land.
The Land Trust can help protect small tracts of land. The group has the skills to negotiate land sales. They can be our partner, or connect us to the Southern Highland Land Conservancy. Additional land could be used for parking, and for an outdoor amphitheater. The history of Joe Anderson could be told as an outdoor drama. Land could be used for an alumni house, or a docent house. Markers could be requested for the school, and for the CCC camp, which was named for Joe Anderson. The CCC camp helped build privies in the area; they may have built the school’s outhouse. Five acres would be ideal. Melanie can put us in touch with the director of the Southern Highland Land Conservancy. Land deals can take years. It is great that our group is planning ahead. Blue Ridge forever will also offer grants.
If we purchase land who manages it? The school board manages the Rosenwald School property as our partner. The Land Trust protects land for specific use, then donates the land to the Parkway who manages it. Long Ridge neighbors have donated land for the school’s electrical building. The Willis/Briggs family donated one acre of land to build the school. MHU wants to manage the land to the left of the school as a walking trail. Can we invite landscapers or gardeners? Funds would be needed for skilled design, or to hire a professional landscape designer. Landscape design could also be a NC State University student project. Melanie recommends we plan for the use and maintenance of the land. This could be a cooperative extension project, or an internship. A school located in Pender County was covered in kudzu. A video was made documenting the use of goats to eat the kudzu. The land below the Mt. Olive cemetery is covered in kudzu. Who owns the kudzu property? Possibly descendents of the Ray family.
The use of the site should include some interactivity. Multi-use sites are community centers, museums, meeting centers, and provide other uses for income. Arts and crafts events, and concerts can reflect that part of our local history. The Junior Appalachian Musicians program would like to use the space to teach classes and hold concerts. The jazz band at the high school would also be a great partner. These events would make the site an essential and vital part of the community. Youth programs and training programs for teachers could provide income. Great for our school system partnership. Our group is unique in that we have the support of the Madison County School system.
The conservation trust hosted a youth core for 17 weeks. The youth built trails and maintained forests. They anticipate having two crews working in WNC. They are looking at projects they may want to undertake. Some are short, some long term. Some projects take place on federally owned land where the groups manage invasive species such as bittersweet. Our project could be submitted to the group. Melanie will send details to Simone.
NC will host the 2015 National Rosenwald Trust Conference. A planning committee is in the works. Tennessee was originally part of North Carolina. Our 25 county network includes Newport TN. Our mountain community crosses state borders. There are 12 counties in WNC with Rosenwald schools. Can we plan a meeting with Melanie, and representatives from the board of education, the cooperative extension, and the local land trust? Each representative could share resources and ideas.
History Committee: There are no new oral interviews. Richard is working on a new book, the history of African Americans in NC. Margaret Newbold’s grandfather was superintendent of NC schools. There are two African American historical markers in WNC: the YMI and the Baptist church.
Media: Simone presented the first draft of the history of the school incorporating old photos from Charity and Dorothy, and other photos found online of Rosenwald Schools. More images could be included. A genealogy chart showing the lineage of the area families could also be included. A scanning party could be organized in order to collect more photos. One could be held in the fall and one in the spring. The Asheville community has ties to the school; many of the schools alumni live in Asheville.
Willa met with Anna Farello who created the display for the Christenburg Academy in Virginia. She provided Willa with a sample of their promotional folder. She can help us create an exhibit for our school. A planning grant would be needed to fund the display.
Fundraising:. A grant writing committee of 4 or 5 people is needed. We have the materials; we need to organize everything in order to apply for grants. Volunteers are needed. Andy Reed has experience writing grants. More volunteers may be found at our meeting in Asheville. The Theta sorority donated $100 to the project. Our account stands at $600. $200 will be spent to join the Conservation Trust. Some grants require matching funds.
Construction: Temporary power will be needed to light and heat the building for work to take place over the winter. The school maintenance crew will set it up. The combination for the school door is 1930.
Community Relations: The committee will meet in Asheville at Fatimah and Omar’s home in January. Fatimah will have more details at our next meeting.
Board Development: Judy Futch is eager to help and wants to meet with us. David will get dates. He also spoke with new business owners in Mars Hill who are also interested in helping. A Q&A meeting could be held after the first of the year. Plan to invite all interested parties. Willa is meeting with Brian, the school boards attorney, to complete our 501c3 status. She will have a report for us in December. Members of our group should attend the board of education work sessions to update them on our progress.
The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m. The next meeting of the Rosenwald Project Planning Committee was planned for Friday, December 13, at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church.