Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, January 30, 2015
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, January 30, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David Wyatt, Richard Dillingham, Dorothy Rapp, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Les Reker, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked us for coming out in the cold. Previous meetings were cancelled due to the weather. Dorothy and Charity were unable to attend.
Willa’s Report: Lots of tours of the exhibit and the school have taken place. We are doing well with our partnerships and community relations. The school closed in 1965; 50 years ago this year. How can we commemorate this?
Fatimah and Omar were featured on the cover of the Mountain Xpress, (Vol 21, Issue 25, January 21-27, 2015). The article, which was written by Cameron Huntley, was entitled “We Remember, Saving Madison County’s Rosenwald School.” He wrote an excellent article. Les brought copies for the committee. Thanks to Les for his hard work promoting the exhibit and the school project. Thanks to Cameron for the excellent article.
Minutes: The minutes from December 2014 were approved.
Alumni: Fatimah continues to nurture our Asheville relationships. She is reaching out to those outside of the area via mail. Packets will need to be mailed to alumni. Postage is needed.
Construction: David and Dan organized a nail pulling party. The siding for the school is now stacked according to length inside of the school. Dan brought a heater. There was a good turnout; thanks to all who helped. The building is in good shape; neat and orderly. Storage is needed for the display until work on the school is complete. The ceiling at the school needs to come down. Insulation needs to go up. Jennifer and Cathy from the Department of Cultural Resources, visited the school. They say the siding will work. Jennifer will identify the paint color. They also suggested we repair the stucco and underpinning. It does not need to be open, as in the original plan. That is also up to us. There are lots of options.
Scott has the HVAC unit located in the coat closet vestibule, a good location, but also up to us. It’s nice to have it separate from the main area. The siding on the back of the building will be replaced. The small siding can be used on the addition. The outside wall, where the addition is located, can be treated as either an inside or outside wall. It’s up to us. David will ask Donna Briscoe if we can store stuff in their carport next to the school. David will also get the final specs from Scott for approval. A general contractor is needed. The windows at the old rock school in Mars Hill are too small for our building. Scott plans to get bids on our windows. We have lots of volunteer carpenters available. Scott can supervise.
Fundraising: Willa distributed a report that totals all activity through 2014. David secured a donation of $10,000 from the French Broad EMC. He spoke with Jeff Loven and the board. They don’t want any publicity. The donation is in honor of Edith Hampton who attended the school. French Broad EMC will also install an electric meter on the school. David has other meetings scheduled with potential donors. Prospects are looking good. Lots of folks have heard about the school. More contacts are being put in place. He is working on more local contacts.
We need to begin tracking in-kind donations. Scott Donald and Padgett & Freeman have handled the printing of our brochures, and all materials for our promotional packets. We owe them a big thank you. A sheet detailing potential uses for the school needs to be added to the promotional packets. Copies of the strategic plan also need to be included. Willa will get updates from Judy Futch. It’s a pretty thick folder.
David won’t stop until we get all of the money we need for the project! The Department of Cultural Resources is seeking bricks and mortar funds for us. The Friends of Mountain History has funds we may be eligible to apply for. Willa got a call from an 83-year-old woman. She saw the article in the Mountain Xpress and wants to send a check. She was impressed by the article, which was written by Cameron. Jamie Walker, of the Ultimate Ice Cream shop, also contacted Willa. She heard the radio interview on NPR and read the article. Ultimate Ice Cream would like for the school to be their non-profit of the month for February. They create a flavor of the month, and proceeds from sales of that flavor will benefit our school project. The flavor is cinnamon ice cream with red hot toppings. They have two locations in Asheville. A poster and brochures are needed for each location. Scott can print the posters for us.
Programming: Dorothy and Fatimah are planning a red-hot performance for February. Fatimah is working with the choir from Mt. Zion Baptist church. The program is scheduled for February 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Broyhill Chapel. The fellowship hall next to the chapel is booked. A reception can be held across the street in the Ferguson building. Les will open the program with introductions and brief history. Performance will be about 45 minutes. After the performance Willa will thank everyone. Les will hand out certificates of appreciation, followed by the reception. There will be bottled water. Please bring cookies.
Can the event be a swipe event? Les will look into that. If it is a card swipe event, can they do that on the side. Last time the entrance was blocked by students waiting to swipe their cards. The contact is Alacia Hackett, diversity chair at MHU. Reverend Barber will be in town for MHU’s black history month events. Les will invite him to tour the exhibition.
Dorothy reports that Warren Wilson’s professor of music plans to attend with his class. Scott Donald will also attend the program. Fatimah will talk about the way that songs maintained our ancestors spirit. The event will be an audience inclusive experience. Fatimah will perform spoken word, and the choir will perform old gospels. Programs are needed with songs and quotes, and an invitation to support the school. Invitations are also needed.
Fatimah took members of the group Womansong on a tour of the exhibit and school. The group was impressed with the history, and they learned a lot. She felt it was a good and powerful process. Several more tours are lined up.
History: Dan is researching when water was piped to the building. Records say 1950s. The town charged a fee for water in the 1940s. There was a faucet outside by the steps. Running water was installed before restrooms were installed. It took years to lay some 2,000 feet of water line to the school. Outdoor privies were used until the 1950s. He continues to research the possibility of open bank privies from neighboring farms, which may have polluted the spring near the school. He is working to identify the children who died. Two are cousins to Charity Ray. One is unknown. In 1939, Ms. Wilson, a teacher at the school, demanded running water. It’s a complicated history. These stories have not been written. The school is located outside of town limits. The town worked together with the community to lay the water pipe. The blacks dug trenches and the whites paid for the pipe.
Frances Ramsey, who lives in Hot Springs needs to be interviewed. She is 90 years old. The minutes from the Yancey county school board for 1885-1967 have been located. Richard will have MHU purchase the microfilm. Dan will review the minutes for any mention of the Mars Hill school.
Exhibition: Les is gearing up for Black History Month. It is a great time to request funds from potential supporters. Articles have run in the Citizen-Times, the News-Record & Sentinel, the Urban News, and the Mountain Xpress about the exhibition. The NPR radio program reached more than 1 million listeners. Dr. Darin Waters broadcasts a program on WRES, the Asheville radio station. He will interview Les in February. The exhibit has four weeks left. There have been lots of tours. Dr. Lunsford at MHU is very proud of the exhibit. Thanks to the Rapps, Fatimah and Omar, and the Wyatts. The Rosenwald’s grandson’s wife’s sister visited the exhibit. She brought a book that Les will share with our committee. Richard met her. The grandson’s wife wrote a book about the Rosenwald schools.
Charity’s art exhibit changes this month. Folks love her artwork. The USDA Forest Service will tour the exhibit with 20 employees. Les is hopeful that more schools will tour the exhibit. He will have a total count of visitors at the end of the show. Three packed tours took place on Martin Luther King Jr. day, January 19. Moore Auditorium was packed for the day’s presentation. The exhibit closes on February 28. Please come to pick up any objects the first week in March. Please let Les know when you are coming. The panels, which are peeling, will be repaired and stored. The privy needs to be moved to the school, it cannot be stored at the museum. Another privy will be built on site, as there were two, one for boys and one for girls. The privy is eash to move as it collapses. Students can help to move it. Doug Murray, the fellow who built the privy, plans to tour the exhibit. Ryan will also film and document the exhibit.
The exhibit is the best thing that has happened. It has brought lots of attention to the school and our project. Dr. Thavolia Glymph, the MLK Breakfast keynote speaker from Duke University, plans to return to Asheville. She is interested in seeing the exhibit. Oralene will be in touch with her. She would like to find a way for the exhibit to be displayed at Duke University. Funding would be needed for the transportation of the videos, panels, desk, and blackboard. These items need to be crated, or soft packed. An itemized list is needed.
Project Support: Willa toured the exhibit with April Riddle and Martha Peterson. Transylvania County is seeking funds for a Rosenwald Park. Willa will get Fisk information regarding the historic Rosenwald schools to April. The Transylvania school is built on a Rosenwald plan, however, it was not a Rosenwald school. April’s husband’s family owned the Coal Feed & Lumber Company in Marshall. They may have an old coal stove for use in the school. April’s mother-in-law has a deed for property in Marshall. That document notes that one black boy was included with the property. There is also a book about slave owners in Madison County. April’s grandmother walked to catch the bus to school every day with two other black children. They caught separate buses.
Melanie Allen and Margaret Newbold plan to attend the next program. Margaret’s father was superintendent of schools. He may have received the letter written by Kevin Barnett’s grandmother asking for a school for the black community. We need to document that story. History is needed on Fisk Univeristy, the Rosenwald School, and Margaret Newbold’s grandfather.
Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville in interested in a two-hour presentation for the Lifelong Learning Center, perhaps for June or July. Details would be needed by February 15 so that attendees can register. A program and bios are needed. We can use the same materials for the Rosenwald Conference. The poster presentation will be a 4×8 foot panel. The poster is needed on Wednesday, at the beginning of the conference. On Friday, from noon until 2 p.m. There will be a presentation about the project. The Appalachian Studies Conference takes place in March. Les has organized a panel for that.
The Madison County Arts Council needs to be added to our outreach list. We need to contact David Holt to tour the school and exhibit.
Looking Ahead: Contact Handmade in America about the brown destination highway signs. Willa will also ask April Riddle. Can we share a sign with the Rural Heritage Museum? Our school is a national historic site. The National Trust refers to it as the Mars Hill Rosenwald School. The property located at the gateway to the community could be purchased by the Conservation Trust Fund. Melanie and Margaret will discuss. What about an historic marker for the school? The Blue Ridge Heritage Group will create a kiosk for the rural Heritage Museum. It will be located on Hwy. 213. They may be interested in creating one for the school.
What can volunteers do now? Take up the floor tiles. Remove ceiling tiles. The school maintenance department can provide us with particle masks. Dan will schedule work days. The lock number will be changed to 1928. A link to the Rural Heritage Museums Facebook page needs to be added to our website. Simone will contact Teresa Buckner about accessing our Facebook page.
The meeting adjourned at 12:21 p.m.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, March 13 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.