Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, April 10, 2015
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, April 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Charity Ray, Richard Dillingham, Dorothy Rapp, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Teresa Phillips, Ryan Phillips, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. Please watch the video of the presentation from the Appalachian Studies Conference. The presentation was filmed by Ryan. Links to the video are on the website and on Facebook. She Is looking forward to the full documentary. It will be great! Still waiting to hear total amount of contributions from Jamie at Ultimate Ice Cream.
Alumni: Fatimah has been in communication with Sarah Hart. We are now lifetime members of the Stephens Lee Alumni Association. An opening ceremony for the newly remodeled Stephens Lee is scheduled to take place on June 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fatimah will write a letter to invite ministers in Asheville to meet with us on the fourth Friday of the month in June at Stephens Lee. The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 26.
Construction: A work party takes place tomorrow, Saturday, April 11. The town will provide a truck for debris. We will work on the ceiling, not the floor tiles. If we can raise $50,000 we can begin work on Phase I. Timmy Willis will get permits for the work. Don Murray has provided scaffolding. Work begins at 9 a.m. and continues until about 4 p.m. Work as long as you can. Invite our supporters. Charity has asked for a pizza donation. She will place the order tomorrow morning. Bring hammers, pry bars, gloves, and goggles. Willa has dust masks.
Fundraising: On April 16 our grant application goes to Wells Fargo. David plans to speak with other potential donors. He hopes that Wells Fargo will give the full amount needed. Willa, Sandra, and Karen Kiena worked on the application. They are also looking at education grants. The next application deadline is in June. David will work with the grant writing committee. Karen has copies of our promotional packet.
Financial Report: There is no financial report. Michael Wallin at the school is on spring break. Willa will have a report in May. We are on the docket for the Blue Ridge Life Long Learning Center. The church van is available to transport members. Willa will introduce the school alumni, then open the floor to questions.
Programming: Dorothy has an idea for a program since it has been difficult to reschedule the choir. MHU is also heavily scheduled. After work on the school is completed, perhaps we can schedule an event with the choir for the opening of the building. What if we held a ceremony at the church? We could hold it near homecoming, but not the same day as homecoming. Perhaps the Saturday before homecoming in September? Some people from out of town will be here. If folks don’t arrive until Sunday there could be a poor turnout. A day time program would be best. If we contact families early enough, can we hold an event near homecoming? Plan to include the community and invite MHU. Options are needed.
MHU Founders day is near October 12. Several activities take place then. MHU Homecoming could be October 9. They will be celebrating the Ammons this year; they celebrated the Anderson’s last year. The kiosk ceremony will take place at Joe’s grave during the week. There will be a public program, with panels about Joe, and the planting of Oralene’s cherry tree. It will be held Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening.
History: Richard is working with Charity Ray and Dorothy Coone to identify where residents lived in the Long Ridge Community and the Piney Grove area. They are using a plat to identify the homes. They are also working to identify burials in the cemetery. They have met with Vickie Seabolt of Paint Fork about the Piney Grove cemetery on Walker Branch. Vickie and sister have cleaned the graveyard and there were about 50 graves located. This forgotten cemetery needs a survey and preservation; working to accomplish this by homecoming. A plaque displaying the history of the site with names and dates of those buried there would be ideal.
Piney Grove Church on Walker Branch, located beside the cemetery, was the parent church of Mt. Olive Church. The land owners will be asking Mt. Olive to care for the cemetery. This is a long range project. This African American cemetery is on private land, owned by the J.G. Gardner family. The Piney Grove Church on this land was sold in 1917 to build the new Mt. Olive Church building. There are many old timers buried there. The cemetery measures about 200 square feet. Mt. Olive deacons are open to the idea of deeding the land to Mt. Olive Church. The lot has been cleaned and needs to be seeded with grass.
Is our group interested in taking a field trip to the site where Joe Anderson may have lived? The site is located on Don Murray’s property in East Fork. A four-wheel drive vehicle would be needed. Dan Slagle is interested in saving the Ramsey graveyard on Bruce Road where many blacks are buried. Effie Coone family members are buried there.
Richard and Dan are registering these graveyards with the attorney general. The Deaver family is buried at the graveyard by the highway, along with founding families from Mars Hill College. Income from sales of the Os Deaver Diary will go to help protect it.
Interviews: Teresa mentioned that interviews can be recorded on cell phones. We can provide the questions. Working on a plan to visit Hot Springs, hopefully early in the day sometime this month. Frances Ramsey has lots of historic details. It is important to talk to white classmates and teachers about integration. It is also beneficial to speak with some younger people and teachers about life in the community. Whites attended the plays presented at the school. Black and white, young and old; names are needed.
Other Projects: Les will send a list of the places the exhibit was promoted. Waiting to hear about the repair of the panels from the exhibit. The corners are peeling. Les will also provide us with a copy of the guest book from the exhibit, which contains about 1600 entries, including notes from visitors and some addresses. A book on the Rosenwald family was received; it has been loaned to the Cheeks for research. The book talks about Booker T. Washington. A relative of the Rosenwald family is interested in attending our big event.
Appalachian State Presentation: Ryan drove; Omar, Oralene, and Fatimah were on the panel. About eight people showed up. The panelists each spoke for about 15 minutes each. There were lots of questions afterwards. Brochures were distributed and attendees were invited to visit. The presentation was very good and encouraging. Watch the video! There were 15 other presentaions held at the same time. There were 600-800 attendees for the conference. The best statement from the presentation: “We integrated the schools, but we lost the village.” There is a story waiting to be told about our communities and how youth today have lost their roots. The Cheeks and Richard Dillingham helped organize the first Appalachian Studies conference in Berea.
Looking Ahead: We need to identify new programs for the future. Could lead to funding. Think in terms of a community center. Great opportunity to tell the story of the community. There were six high schools in our area based on the Rosenwald plan. A 4×8 poster is needed for the Rosenwald Conference. It will feature pictures and excerpts from the letters from the Board of Education. An honorarium was received from the Blue Ridge Life Long Learning Center in the amount of $50; it can be applied to developing the poster.
The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, May 8 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.