Minutes: January 10, 2014

Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from January 10, 2014

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, January 10, 2013, at the home of Fatimah Shabazz and Omar McClain, 66 Austin Avenue in Asheville.

Attending were: David and Willa Wyatt, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Ryan Phillips, Dan Slagle, Theresa Phillips, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, Sandra Tolley, Eugene Jones, Sarah Hart, Andy Reed, Bryan Green, and Simone Bouyer.

Willa welcomed everyone who attended. Introductions were made. Sarah Hart is the president of the Stephens Lee Association. Eugene Jones is an alumni of the Anderson Rosenwald School. Bryan Green specializes in agriculture and food planning.

A brief review of the Anderson Rosenwald School committee was given, including the history of the school name. The group began meeting in 2010. Oral interviews, histories and discussions have taken place on what to call the project. The historical name of the school references Joe Anderson. The National Trust’s register of schools lists the school as the Mars Hill Rosenwald School. The committee now calls the school the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School, located in the historic Long Ridge community.

The minutes for December 2013 were corrected as follows: corrected spelling of Les Reker. Due to time constraints, further corrections can be made at the February meeting. A memorial service for Francis Owens, who was a teacher at the school, takes place right after the meeting. Francis passed on Saturday, January 4. She was 100 years of age, and had no children. Her service will be held at Mt. Zion at 12 noon. Scott McDonald’s mother passed after Christmas. Scott is currently working on another project.

Rural Life Exhibit: Plans are underway to organize a group to work on the Rural Life Museum exhibit. A meeting will be held with Mr. Les Reker. The exhibit will open in September, and needs to be ready by the end of June. The exhibit needs to be historically correct. The history committee has documented dates and facts. A list is needed of volunteers for the exhibit.

Sarah Hart brought her report card. She also has a diploma from the school. A scanning documents event needs to be held. The Owens family may have photos or other documents from the school. Grace Owens was also a teacher at the school.

Pictures are needed for the exhibit. The drum artifact was shared with the group. The building has not been occupied since the 60s. The Department of Cultural resources can help with preservation. Artifacts are also needed for the display. At the National Rosenwald School conference Willa saw a photo of our school.

Interviews: Ryan set up a monitor and played the video, which is a work in progress. It shows clips from interviews, and the demolition of the decayed addition to the school. The addition will be rebuilt. Eugene Jones is in the video. Alonzo Ray’s video interview included his memories of Ms. Owens. Ryan has transferred one of Charity’s music tapes to DVD and plans to do others. These tapes contain music from the Mt. Olive Church choir.

Community Relations: Fatimah is working on a newsletter for the Stephens Lee alumni. Simone, Willa and Sarah plan to meet to go over the details. A date and time are needed for a meeting at Stephens Lee. Our group will go anywhere to help spread the word about the project. The Stephens Lee alumni room is available for meetings anytime, we just need to get on their calendar. Sarah will help promote any meetings. Stephens Lee’s next newsletter will go out in mid-February. Our group should plan for a meeting in March.

Fundraising:. Oralene Simmons is working with Andy Reed on the program for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Association breakfast. Organizations will be allowed to place information on tables in the lobby. About 800 people are expected to attend the breakfast. Attendees will be prompted by an announcement to pick up brochures. Andy suggests that our group prepare 300 brochures and donation forms to distribute at the event. A march will take place on the Monday following the breakfast. Flyers and questionnaires can be placed at St. James. Simone can prepare a donation form that supporters can mail in. If there is a cost for distributing materials Andy will let us know.

Oralene has spoken about the school at past breakfasts. Ours is the last school standing in western North Carolina. We are fortunate to have the support of the Madison County school system. Sandra’s son-in-law is the director of maintenance. He was instrumental in installing a temporary ramp at the school. Madison County schools handles the electricity, maintenance and upkeep of the Anderson Rosenwald school. This is a great partnership!. Our thanks go out to Dr. Wilcox and Sandra Tolley. They feel that the work we are doing is priceless!

The Land: Bryan Green is interested in land preservation, beautification, and making the site accessible. What is possible with the land surrounding the school? A beautiful space can be created. Bryan, or Busha, comes from nine generations of homesteaders. He is interested in agricultural history, preserving stories of the land, and the history of the community and collaborations. How does agriculture tie in to the story of the school? He can help identify the plants, and determine what was used for food and medicine. The school could host demonstrations showing techniques for farming and gardening. Our group should incorporate natural history into our plans for the school.

The Conservation Trust is also interested in the land surrounding the school. Andy also manages the Herb Festival, which takes place in May each year. Now in it’s 25th year, the festival is full of vendors and knowledge. The Appalachian Room at MHU has information on regional herbs used for medicinal purposes. Fatimah’s uncle Walt knew about herbs. Eugene’s uncle and Walt knew the area well and hunted for ginseng.

The school was last used as a tobacco barn. This use got the school a matching funds grant for the roof. The mayor of Marshall has a construction firm and completed the roof project for $9,000. Fox grapes can be found on the property as well as clay. Dorothy’s mother made pottery from the clay. Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone visited the school. There is also a story of President Roosevelt purchasing pottery made by students at the school.

Other Notes: More information on Booker T. Washington needs to be included in the printed history of the school. Fatimah knows the publisher of Sheville, an online publication. The Sheville site has picked up information from our website to promote the project.

Willa thanked everyone for attending. The meeting adjourned at 11:11 a.m. The next meeting of the Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School was planned for Friday, February 14, at 10 a.m at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer