Minutes – October 11, 2013

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, October 11, 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, Dan Slagle, Charity Ray, Dorothy Ray, Ray Rapp, and Simone Bouyer.

Willa opened the meeting at approximately 10:08 a.m. The minutes for September 2013 were corrected as follows: Spelling of Kaye Myers; Manuel Briscoe. Loretta Ray and Essie Ray attended the school. With a motion from Richard and a second from Fatimah, all present approved the corrected minutes.

Rosenwald School Conference: The Rosenwald School conference took place October 5 in Edenton, NC. Fatimah and Omar attended. The board expressed appreciation for their dedication to our project. Fatimah reported that they drove to Edenton Friday night. The event was very powerful. Each guest received a gift bag, which included a t-shirt and a water bottle. They met Margaret Newbold and Carol Shields. Both are open to visiting our school. Womansong expressed interest in hosting a fundraiser. The conference was a good foundation for support of Rosenwald school projects. Our school was used in two videos/presentations. The entire conference was videotaped. A copy will be sent to our board.

Alethea Williams Cains gave a presentation on the process of restoration for their school. Carol Sheild, with the Hamilton school in Martin County gave a presentation on how to nurture politics to gain funding. She suggested that groups find the advisor closest to the president/governor to impact his/her funding decisions. Identify, research, and cultivate were the keywords. Other questions brought up were “How to solicit support,” and “why support the project.” Fatimah will type up notes on the event. In our area the residents now living in the community need to be educated and enlightened about the school. The Asheville community has connections to our school. The larger Long Ridge community is not necessarily connected to the school.

Omar reported that the use of the building should be defined. A museum is not very compelling and may not generate much funding. Creative ideas are needed to generate income. Politicians will show up if we present them with an award. Belk is offering a $5 coupon to support Rosenwald Schools. Groups sell coupons to generate funding. Melanie will visit in November and says hi to the history committee. Regarding restoration, other schools used crude oil to restore the floors. It preserves the old wood to like-new condition. Motor oil could also be used. Lots of people attended the conference. The Gathering Place plans to hold a yearly conference.

There were also Rosenwald High Schools. A list of schools included locations in TN, NC, VA, and GA. The industrial high school in Newport , TN is still standing. Also a vocational school in Wilkes County, TN, which is closest to us. We might consider forming a partnership with them. Their restoration project is huge and will require millions of dollars. Some schools also had homes for the teachers, which were all based on a Rosenwald plan. All the schools had windows on one side which let in the sunlight since they had no electricity. Some ideas on how to preserve and protect our history included holding a scanning project. This would be a fundraiser. It was empowering to meet alumni of the school. Some were in their 90s. One was a teacher. Our school compared to others; Ms. King’s school in Buford County, SC is outstanding. She worked on it for a very long time. They restored it by focusing and setting goals. He also saw an old photo of our school with 12 children standing in front.

Fatimah put together folders for our project. She and Omar donated 50 red folders which include the history of the school, a brochure, and the survey. They thanked the board for supporting them. The next conference will tour some schools. They would love it if the conference were held in Asheville. About 90% of attendees want to visit our area!

Participation: Potential for natural science students to participate. What local/industrial benefits are available to create a history of the use of our area? A two-acre community garden near the school. Tobacco and cotton were also grown in our area.

An estimated 4,000 people attended the Heritage festival, which was also held October 5. We need to participate in more festivals! About 20 people signed the guest book. Although we weren’t actively asking for donations, $15 was donated to the project. Art & Nancy Wood donated $10. Bob Zink brought three tables and a cooler full of water. Richard Dillingham loaned us large copies of old photos and three easels. Teresa Phillips also provided two easels. The photos were of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and Charity’s painting of the school and church. The image that everyone stopped to look at was the memorial marker for Joe Anderson. We also displayed the architectural renderings from Scott.

We handed out brochures and talked to lots of people about the history of the school. Sandra and Simone were at the booth most of the day. Richard and Dan Slagle were also there all day; Richard at the cabin and Dan at the genealogy booth. Both were a great help. Teresa and Ryan brought a tv which played a dvd loop. The short video contained parts of interviews, the clean-up at the school, and the Rosenwald teaser. There was a lot at the booth to capture people’s attention. Charity and Dorothy were at the Church Mice booth directly across from us, which made for a nice community connection. Several books loaned to us by Richard on the history of our area were on display. Simone placed signs on the way to the school, and provided copies of a map for those interested in visiting the school.

Several people are interested in participating with us. Mr. Tickle from England has a ground penetrating radar system. A gardener from Biltmore has bulbs we can plant around the school. Lots of people stopped by to say hi to Willa and David. The Wolf Laurel Historical Society is interested in working with us. One woman saw us on the internet and was glad to discover we had a booth at the festival. There was a lot of interest and appreciation for the project.

History Committee: There are no new interviews. Dan researched the Henry Ford visit to our area. He found a book with photos and the group’s itinerary. In August of 1918 the group passed through Mars Hill. They were headed from Newport, TN to Asheville. Mars Hill College students lined the street. Richard found an article published in a West Virginia paper: Ford was looking for new factory locations. The group had tea in Mars Hill with the Woodrows, descendents of president Wilson. More research into local Asheville papers is needed. Nothing was found in the News Record & Sentinel or in the college paper.

Richard spoke with Professor Alan Smith at MHU regarding a student project to research the genealogy  of the Long Ridge community. Would be a great project for the NC Land Trust. He would recommend that Mark Norwood, from the physical plant, supervise the student.

Media: A folding survey that can be mailed would be great for alumni. Make it easy for them to send to us. Dorothy Rapp contacted UNC TV’s production staff about the school. They will review the idea of doing a story on the school. Fatimah and Omar can videotape and broadcast our meetings online. By the first of next year they will have equipment. A fundraising scanning project could be held. People could bring in their photos to be scanned for the history of the school scrapbook.

Fundraising: The Madison County school board will pay for the 501c3 status. An introductory statement about the mission of the committee is needed for the promotional folders. The folders could also include a bookmark or other keepsake, a list of local schools, and notary photos of Billy Strayhorn, Henry Ford, etc.

The CBG Grant may yield possible new funding sources. Martha Peterson (Yancey County), works with Representative Mark Meadows. Willa will arrange a meeting to take place November 5 at the Wagon Wheel.

Will is working with the school board attorney on the 501c3 status. His office is located on Merimon Avenue.

Anna Fariello, consulting curator for Christiansburg Institute, an African American school that served as a model for the Rosenwald Schools, created a display at the I-26 welcome center. She is available to meet with the group for breakfast on October 30. Willa will arrange the details.

A member of the Regional Advisory group, Annie (McDonald?) is in contact with all of the Blue Ridge Heritage schools, located in 26 counties. The college has agreed to host (a Rosenwald school exhibit?). Also the Department of Cultural Resources. Annie will talk about the Conservation Trust and what’s going on with other schools.  And, how the project ties in to NC’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), located in TN Valley and Hot Springs. The Joe Anderson story is also a good connection. House Home magazine has a survey: Identifying Rosenwald Schools.

A 2013 directory lists a total of 21 Land Trusts. Joining the National Trust would be great for funding opportunities. Funds are needed for Fatimah and Omar’s trip to Edenton. $200 was set aside. Additional funds are requested. Richard makes a motion that additional funds be granted. With a second from David, all present approved.

Construction: David reports that windows can be purchased. He has the name and contact information for a man that builds and installs custom made windows. He will get costs. People may want to sponsor a window. The old rock school in Mars Hill has the same windows. The school board does not want that building destroyed. They are working to get it on the historical registry. There is also an old school in Black Mountain. Old windows can be repurposed for our school. Plans are needed for a Rosenwald Teacherage. Search online.

As winter approaches, Dan says that he can work on the inside of the building, tearing down the old ceiling and floor tiles. Electricity would be needed. The power box is there, it just needs to be activated. With help from volunteers he can make some headway. Willa will contact Dr. Wilcox. With the help of volunteers we could really move ahead. Thanks to the Madison County Board of education!

Community Relations: Fatimah says the committee could meet in Asheville at their home. She will also contact the YMI about our project. She will have more details at our next meeting.

Board Development: David met with several committee members before the meeting. Those attending included Richard Dillingham, Omar, Fatimah, Ray Rapp, O’Neal Shelton, and Simone. Articles of incorporation are needed, along with 501c3 status, and a tax id. Bylaws are also needed. Should the committee contact Judy Futch to see if we are on track? The group discussed the idea of a governing board made up of 13 people, and a larger advisory board of people from area organizations, the colleges and universities, churches, alumni, town and community members. The Board of Directors would include a representative from: the Board of Education, Madison County, the town of Mars Hill, MHU, Mars Hill Rosenwald School alumni, Mt. Olive Church, the Long Ridge community, the Cooperative Extension, plus four at-large members, and a chairperson. On dissolution all material assets go to the Madison County Board of Education, and all cultural assets would go to Mars Hill University. The board should be diverse and include women and African Americans. David will contact Judy Futch to review.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m. The next meeting of the Rosenwald Project Planning Committee was planned for Friday, November 8, at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer