Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, September 12, 2014
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, September 12, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Dan Slagle, Sandra Tolley, Teresa Phillips, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, Richard Dillingham, Les Reker, Pauline & Edwin Cheek, Dorothy Rapp, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. Talking points from the August meeting were distributed and reviewed. Lots of exciting things to cover, from the opening of the exhibit to the Lunsford Festival on October 4.
Exhibition: Les updated the group on the exhibit, Our Story, This Place, which opened September 6. Thanks to everyone, the exhibit is completed. It looks good and has been well received. We should all be proud of it. There is an ad in the Mountain Xpress, plus a photo and announcement about the exhibit. A show on National Public Radio will interview Les about the exhibit. Les is also pursuing additional media coverage. He gave a tour to Dr. Lunsford, the President, and the Vice President of MHU this morning. The group watched all the videos, including the introduction, and the short film Bonded. Dr. Lunsford asked that Les purchase new chairs for seating in the museum. Folding chairs are currently being used. Last week a preview was held. This week the exhibit is complete with a display of Charity’s art works. There is a section on Oralene and her daughter. Some information on Viola K. Barnette is missing and will be added with Richard Dillingham’s help. Les spoke to the Rotary Club and shared the preview video. The video always brings tears. The exhibit takes about one hour to see and to read everything. The objects donated give the exhibit a complete experience. Charity and Dorothy are big stars!
At the reception on Sunday, Les and Willa will speak, as well as the Vice President of MHU. Chairs will be out on the lawn in front of the museum. We are hoping for a sunny day. If it rains, the event will be held indoors in Spillman hall. Students and faculty will be attending. Representatives of the NAACP will attend. The Madison County School System sent a notice about the opening to the faculty. Les has three work-study students he is training to be ambassadors. One is African American, though not from here. The exhibit tells a great story, with something for everyone. It will be on display for six months. The hours of the museum are 1-5 p.m. The cost for the catering was $1,000. Rack cards are coming today and will be available on Sunday.
A way for people to contribute to the school is needed at the end of the exhibit. People will want to give. Once the exhibit has ended the display panels will be installed at the school. The name of the museum is now the Rural Heritage Museum. Fatimah asks if a photo of Miss Owens can be added? Les says yes, if a photo is provided. A table can be placed by the back door to hold a donation box and a binder with articles and additional information. The designated colors of the school, buff, gray, and green, are used in the exhibit. The buff color is very sunny. The green was used around the windows and chalkboards. The opening reception will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 14.
Fundraising: Simone has updated the fan artwork and Willa has worked with the Madison County School system to have the fans printed and laminated. Help is needed to cut them out and add sticks. Les can find students to help after Sunday. The craft sticks are too short for handles. Longer sticks are needed. Paint stirrers may work better. David and Willa will locate sticks. 80 fans have been printed. Dorothy can use 20 for the tour she is leading of the school. Once cut, please return the fans to Willa. Are the fans for sale? They are free with a donation. New tax law requires tax to be added for any items for sale. There is no tax on donations. Sue Ann Foster has loaned our group a button making machine. She can come to our next meeting to show us how it works.
History: Pauline located an interview with Manuel Briscoe. He listed names of the teachers in an oral interview. He also confirmed that the school was built in 1928. An interview was received from the website from Thomas Briscoe, age 62.
The illustrated history has been updated to include footnotes. This could greatly improve our chances to receive funding; it will be included in the promotional package. Ryan has images of Briscoe, Charlene, and Kevin Barnette that can be included in the history.
Media: Simone has updated the website to include information about the exhibition. An article on the exhibit will also run in the Urban News. Richard reminded the committee that they agreed to cover the costs associated with maintaining the website. Simone turned in an invoice for the hosting of the website.
Alumni: Fatimah and Omar previewed the exhibit on Saturday with Omar’s brother, and mother, Dora. They were both interviewed. Both wept watching the introductory video. The panels keep the story alive. It was a very emotional experience, and everyone enjoyed the display. Ryan taped the interviews. It is a challenge connecting with alumni. In order to keep them updated we need to use snail mail. Many don’t have or use email. We need to keep them informed so they know what is happening. Fatimah hopes they will come around. Omar’s brother spoke at church about the exhibit. Families will come when it is a good time for them. People who see the exhibit may have one attitude about the school, which is transformed into pride after seeing the exhibit, despite the circumstances of the era. Can the minutes be sent to the alumni? Yes, packets can be mailed. Many are living in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. Willa can get stamps. Mailings can be sent once a month.
Fatimah posted details about the exhibit on Facebook. The Goombay festival begins tonight and continues through Sunday in Asheville. Stephen’s Lee offered to share their table at Goombay with our group. Help is needed tonight and tomorrow. Fatimah can drop off brochures at the table. More brochures are needed.
Fatimah sent out invitations to church presidents, organizations, and ministers. For some there is a conflict of events. The word is out.
Pat Griffin, an alumni of MHU, is developing a fundraising campaign for the windows. She is working as principal at Asheville Middle School. She attended the meeting at Stephen’s Lee.
Can Charity encourage Mt. Olive church members to attend the opening of the exhibit? Yes. Homecoming was held last Sunday and was packed. A great turn-out for both the morning and afternoon services. Two church busses and lots of cars contributed to more than 100 attendees. Both services were wonderful.
Programming: Dorothy Rapp reported that press releases for the exhibition programs are being written. Press releases have been sent to the Sentinel and the Mountain Express. The programs planned are:
• October 16, 2014: Lecture by Oralene Simmons, former Rosenwald School student, great-great-grand daughter of the slave named Joseph Anderson, and the first African American admitted to Mars Hill College, and Susi Anderson, resident of Hawaii and great-great-grand daughter of the slave-master of Joseph Anderson
• November, 13, 2014 Panel Presentation: Personal Recollections of the Rosenwald School.
Moderated by Kevin Barnette (Assist. football coach at MHU) to include Anderson Rosenwald school alumni: Oralene Simmons, Charity Ray, Dorothy Ray, Omar Lewis McClain, Fatimah Rashida Shabazz, Gene Jones
• Changing exhibition: “Madison County Colors From Long Ridge” by Charity Ray, Rosenwald School Alumni (in the Museum)
The October event will be held in Broyhill. A meeting will be held October 13 or 14 at 10 a.m. at the Rural Heritage Museum to plan for the October 16 event. Guests will be staying on campus. They have been invited to speak at the meeting of the Rotary Club. Some events are designated as “Card Swipe” events, which means that those events are required for students working to qualify for scholarships. There is better attendance at card swipe events.
The November event will be held in the cafeteria at MHU in the Redway room, which seats about 120. Planning will begin after the October meeting. Plans are underway for a musical program to be held in February. Jazz would be good. Music by the Howard Hanger Jazz Trio, Paul Bagley, or the college percussion band, were suggested. A date is needed for this event. Thursday evenings seem to work best. Oralene will check with Sarah Hart’s son, who is a musician. There is nothing planned for December or January. Can PR be sent to WCQS and to WCU?
Construction: David will present our promotional package to potential funders. Lumber has been found for repairs. He has siding from his old family home that is identical to the siding used on the school. It has nails in it. We will get the building finished! Charity asks, “By when?” The ceiling tiles and floor tiles still need to be removed. The college can help remove tiles. The electricity should be working. The building has been inspected and has a building permit. The Madison County School System paid the $1,100 to cover the cost of the building permit. The privy that was built for the exhibit turned out great. Don Murray built the privy and would not accept any payment.
Walnut High School was built using a Rosenwald plan. Willa will get photos and work with Taylor Barnhill to document all Rosenwald buildings in Madison County.
Grants: Willa has the group’s approval to apply for a Blue Ridge Heritage grant. A grant to purchase audio equipment. Charity could take about the school and her art. People could listen to interviews while touring the exhibit or the school. A new building has been federally funded in the River Arts district in Asheville. Willa will get more details.
Rosenwald School National Conference: The national conference will be held in Durham in June of 2015. The theme of the conference is “Sharing the Past, Shaping the Future.” They are seeking innovative and engaging topics. There is a deadline of October 1 for presentations. Les says he would love to go. He could show a powerpoint presentation of the exhibit. This is a unique opportunity to highlight our school. About 200 people are expected to attend the conference. Willa will work with Les on completing the application. Handouts could be provided for tabletop displays. Money will be raised to attend. To reach Durham by car takes one day.
Board Development: Willa spoke with Michael Wallin; in process of planning a meeting with the school board. Work on the 501c3 continues with the help of Bobbi Tousey.
Lunsford Festival: Our group will have a booth at the festival again this year. Set-up begins at 9am on Saturday, October 4. Brochures, rack cards, and handouts will be available. The large photos of Joe’s memorial and Charity’s paintings will be on display. A bucket for donations works great. People will want to give. The booth will be right outside of the Rural Heritage Museum. Volunteers are needed to work the booth.
Meetings: Do we need a new meeting date? Kevin Barnette and Dr. Wilcox are unable to meet on Friday mornings. Evening meeting could attract younger folks and those who work. Maybe hold a late or special meeting every other month. Kevin can’t do evenings. Willa will ask what dates would work for him. Kevin is on the Community Relations Committee.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet Friday, October 10, at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill, and Friday, October 24 at 3 p.m. at Stephens Lee in Asheville.
The meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.