Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, June 13, 2014
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, June 13, 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, Ryan Phillips, Teresa Phillips, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, Richard Dillingham, Sarah Hart, Les Rekker, Dorothy Rapp, Pauline & Edwin Cheek, Andy Reed, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. Fatimah is recovering from emergency gallbladder surgery and could not attend. Justin Metcalf also could not attend. Another day will need to be scheduled for additional photos of the committee. On June 2 Gertrude Bruton, mother of Oralene Simmons, passed. She was 93 years old and an alumni of the school.
Report from the Chair: Willa spoke with Mary Carver at Madison County Schools. She will be able to assist us in printing needed materials for the exhibit. Willa will assist Mary with the fans and any other items that need to be made or put together. The National Rosenwald School Conference will be held in Raleigh. All expenses will be out-of-pocket. It would be a great opportunity to tour other schools.
Board Development: A meeting with Judy Futch was held on Wednesday, May 14 at 11:30 a.m. at the Wagon Wheel restaurant in Mars Hill.
History: Dan Slagle has new information from the NC state archives. Some Rosenwald school records are now online. A letter was found from 1928 in which funds were requested by Mr. Blankenshp for an additional room for two teachers to be added to the Long Ridge school. The letter was sent to Raleigh. The response from Raleigh included school plan #20, which provides for an industrial room, and other steps that had to be taken in order for the school project to be funded. In September 17, 1928 Madison County Schools submitted an application for $500 to apply to the building of a new school in Mars Hill. The old building was replaced with a new building based on the plan provided. The Mars Hill application was for Rosenwald funds. In December 1928 a letter was received from Nashville. This was the first school to qualify for funds in our area. The school, being in a backward county, was qualified to receive $750, 1 ½ times the amount requested. The list of schools funded in 1929 does not include the Mars Hill school. Mr. Newbold received a check for the funding of several schools. Plans were followed to complete the new building. Did the school board build the school first, then request funds after? Where did the funds come from?
The school was built in 1928. The total cost of the building was $2,093. Rosenwald funded $750 for school #36-H, a two room schoolhouse; $500 general funding plus $350 in special aid. What is a backward county? To qualify the county had to have less than 5% colored populations. In 1930 Madison county had the 9th smallest black population in the state. There were not enough black taxpayers to support a school; also called low tax wealth. Dan will get more details and a definition from the Rosenwald fund. Only a small portion of these records are online. For more details we may need to visit Raleigh.
Notes from Fisk University state that John Ferguson contributed $200 local funds for school. Ferguson was hired and bussed students for $40/month. The Long Ridge school was open until 1929. The new school was open in 1930. The last classes held at the school were in 1965. Our group has not seen or visited any school that has an industrial room.
Eight interviews recorded by Edwin & Pauline Cheek are on file at Mars Hill University. Karen Parr will send copies. The interviews are with Long Ridge community members who attended the school. Students are needed to transcribe the video interviews.
Media: Simone set up a table for the committee during the Vance Birthplace celebration of Juneteenth, held on June Thursday, June 12. There was a lot of interest from attendees in the project. Simone met Karen Parr, director of the Ramsey Center, who said that Kelly Navies, who has done considerable research into the history of her family, will return to Mars Hill University for a presentation in the fall.
We are out of brochures. It is also time to update our display materials with news about the exhibit. Simone has added details about the exhibit to the website. Scott offered to print brochures for the committee.
Simone updated the illustrated history of the school. It now includes a photo and information about Booker T. Washington, which Fatimah provided. She also included the story of Joseph Anderson, from research done by Richard Dillingham; a brief history on Mt. Olive Church; and, a list of the descendents of Joe Anderson who are buried in Mt. Olive cemetery, from materials provided by Oralene, which Ryan scanned. The history is growing and is now at 8 pages. It could include many more details and photos. Andy Reed suggested that a book be compiled, and he offered the services of Pisgah Press. The book would be based on the exhibit. It could be sold to raise funds for restoration.
Community Relations: Willa spoke about the meeting at Stephens Lee. The group who attended shared their family’s histories and origins and talked about the exhibit. More pictures were scanned. It was great discussing the migration of the families. Sarah Hart’s father moved here in 1939 from Yancey County. More family stories are needed. Miss Bess was an assistant at the school and Miss Owens was a teacher. Miss Wilson was the lead teacher, or principal. The term principal was not used until later. A copy of the school board minutes is on our website. Is there any mention of Miss Bess? Taylor Barnhill has the names of the men who built the school.
Fundraising: Charity collected additional funds from local businesses. John Chandler donated $50. Thank you! David is searching for more donors. A fundraiser needs to be held. A committee and chair are needed.
David is making a list of potential donors and has contacted several. He is good at working with other organizations and businesses interested in supporting the project. He will have more time to dedicate to fundraising in July. A grants writing committee is needed. Sandra and Dorothy Rapp offered to serve. Karen Kiena will also help. Matching grants are out there, and our program does qualify. Kay Myers can also help. David knows a fundraiser. Simone will help create the promotional package.
Can we write a letter of appeal to alumni? We don’t have addresses. Biggest donors for other projects have been from members and alumni. Sarah can help with addresses. Museums in Partnership could help. They will meet next on Tuesday, June 17 at 11 a.m. at the Rural Life Museum. The group has lunch at Peterson. One of our members could make a presentation to the group. Richard moves that we appoint a Programming Committee. With a second from Teresa, all present approved that we appoint a committee.
Construction: David has specs for the windows and sent them to the window maker who will send an estimated. Scott is busy on other projects. The replica of the privy will be included in the exhibit.
Exhibition: Les reported that several meetings have been held to plan the exhibit. At the next meeting they will work on the text and photos. Ryan and Richard are helping. 15 panels, measuring 4’ x10”, will display the text and images. The walls of the museum will be painted the same green as the school walls. Scott has the color. The group is doing more research and writing. The current exhibit ends on August 2. Volunteers are needed to help rearrange the space. A new title wall will show the timeline of the school. Video interviews will be shown in the log cabin room. The exhibit will include the story of Joe, education in our area, and African American education from reconstruction through 1965. A legacy section will showcase a select few biographies and milestones. We have a lot of photos. More objects are needed. We have desks, a duplicator, and a ladle. A coal bucket is needed. We have a blackboard. Objects can be similar to those used during the time period. All materials are on loan and will be returned. The exhibit will get a lot of press and visitors. About 10 to 15 people visit the current exhibit each day. The local publications are excited to cover our story.
Ryan is working on a 7 to 10 minute introductory video. It will include about 10 interviews, plus select photos from Oralene, Sarah, Fatimah, and Charity. The panels will also display the photos, and photos will be used as backgrounds for the panels. He is working with Richard on the storyline. He has a list of additional photos needed. Materials are needed by the end of the month. Contact Ryan or Les.
The exhibition will run from September 6 through February 28. A representative from the Rosenwald family will attend. Homecoming at Mt. Olive is September 7. Charity is working with the church. Transportation is needed from the Church to the Museum. September 1 is Labor Day. The reception will take place on homecoming weekend.
The college can help clean and serve at the reception, contact Caroline Twiggs. Would be great if alumni of the school would speak at the opening. Students in the 4th and 5th grades have been invited.
Marsh Banks has been asked to fund the exhibit. The display panels will be donated to the school once the exhibit has ended. They will be weather proof and could be displayed outside of the school. Rack cards will be printed. The college will design the card. A flyer and rack cards need to be sent to alumni and families. Sarah has some addresses. Does Mt. Olive have a list? Can events be held each month during the exhibit? Such as guest speakers, programs, and forums? Can alumni be asked to speak, or the Rosenwald representative? Would be great for fundraising. A musical event would be nice. Both the University and High School Bands could perform. A chair is needed for a programming committee. Is this something Oralene would be interested in doing? The second week in October is Founders week. A celebration of Joe Anderson is planned. Oralene, Dorothy Rapp, and Andy will serve. Simone will send contact details.
The group will need to review the text, language, and terms used for the exhibit. The term “colored” is used in quotes. Also the word negro. The museum committee will present to our group. Flat screen displays are needed for the display. Can we get corporate sponsorship, or purchase one?
The meeting adjourned at 12 noon. Those present went to the school to take a group picture.
The next meeting of the Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will be held Friday, July 11, at 10 a.m at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill. The grant writing committee will meet beforehand at 9 a.m.