Minutes from Friday, December 12, 2014

Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, December 12, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, Richard Dillingham, Ray & Dorothy Rapp, Ryan Phillips, Teresa Phillips, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Dan Slagle, and Simone Bouyer.

Willa’s Report: Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. The State of Things radio show went well. You can listen to it online. Feedback received has been great. The show reached many folks. Our State magazine may write something about the school.

The poster presentation for the National Rosenwald Conference, which will be held in Durham, was approved. We can show the video, the poster, and other materials. Attendees will need to register. Our group does not have funds to help attend. Willa will forward the details to Simone. Can our group sponsor a van to travel to Durham? The van seats 17. Les Reker’s proposal for a panel presentation at the Appalachian Studies conference was also accepted. You can register to attend online. Please try to attend to support the panelists. The conference will be held at Eastern Tennessee State University in March 2015. Willa will also check for a van to ETSU. We could pay for gas.

Details are needed from Oralene for the MLK Breakfast. It will be held January 17 at the Crown Plaza Resort. Each table holds ten people. Should we place an ad in the program book?

Corrections to November’s Minutes: Willie Ruth’s mother was Ruby Ray Henson. Beatrice Henson was Willie’s sister. Willie died November 1, 1943. Richard received details from the funeral home.

History: Richard spoke with Dorothy Coone who knows where each family lived. She can also identify the unmarked graves in the Mt. Olive cemetery. Mr. Barnette can also identify graves. With Dorothy’s help we can locate the spring and foundation for their old house. This is valuable history. A family tree project for the Long Ridge community would be great.

Richard spoke with Dr. Lunsford at MHU about a kiosk at Joe Anderson’s grave site. He has scripts for the markers. The memorial would include details about Joe, the school, and Oralene Graves Simmons. Brochures could also be placed there. Richard has contacted the NAACP about planting a cherry tree in honor of Oralene Simmons at Joe’s grave site. The tree planting ceremony will take place in February. The kiosk could be installed in the fall. For a state marker, historical sites need to have statewide influence. This might be possible for Viola King Barnett.

Willa asks if Dan can find school board minutes for Yancey county. Dan can check with the Yancey newspaper, owned by Pat Randolph. Richard can order microfilm through the college.

A date needs to be set for a group visit to Hot Springs. Mornings would work well for everyone. A school was located on the property where Sydney Harrison lives, a high point in Hot Springs. Frances Ramsey, a retired history teacher, also remembers some details about the school. The school met in a Methodist Church.

Alumni: Fatimah confirmed that our group will not be able to meet at the Stephen’s Lee Center until April 2015. The gym will be closed from January through March for renovations. This gives us time to ignite some interest from alumni. Packages are needed to mail to alumni. Packages could include excerpts from newspapers, and the notated history. Willa has paid Dancing Moon to print copies of the history. Fatimah needs about 10 packages. Would be nice to include a hand fan or magnet. The history committee can mail updates via a newsletter to alumni. A mailing list for the alumni is needed.

Records for students are needed for the 40s and 50s with addresses. This could lead to locating alumni. The state did not save any of these school records. Valuable records have been destroyed.

The committee still needs to join the Stephens Lee Alumni Association. Fatimah will confirm the details with Sarah Hart. Willa can mail a check once she has the details. An appreciation gathering should be planned for 2015. A location in Asheville in needed for alumni and friends of the group to come and share their stories. The films from the presentations could be shown.

Construction: A nail pulling day is needed for the siding. Easy to work on siding on a warm day. Once nails are removed, the siding can be moved indoors. The floor tiles need to be removed. David will check about electricity at the school. The floor tiles can be placed in bags or boxes and the town will take them to the landfill. The tiles are held down with glue. Helps to use a shovel. The subfloor needs to be preserved. A machine can be used to sand and finish the floors. There is a drop ceiling which needs to be removed. A box of dust masks is needed for those working in the space. Willa can locate dust masks. Can dust masks be contributed? The school system has dust masks and rubber gloves. A day will be set after Christmas for nail pulling.

Stephens Lee is on the National Registry of Historic Places. They have new double paned windows. They were installed before new regulations. Our school will have single paned windows with storm windows.

The siding is in two sizes and there is enough to do the main building and the add-on. What will the add-on walls be made of? Possibly bead-board. The addition and the bathrooms will use the smaller siding. The industrial room was added to qualify for Rosenwald funds. The bathrooms were added later to each side of the industrial room.

Scott Donald and a contractor are needed to begin work on the siding. Volunteers can work at anytime. Save the beadboard ceiling. Some boards need to be repaired. The floor near the door needs to be repaired. After the exhibit closes, the privy will be placed on the school site.

Programming: Dorothy Rapp reports what she is working with Fatimah on the February program. A gospel choir musical event has been scheduled for Thursday, February 19 at 6:30 p.m. Fatimah will give a presentation on the history of music and how it relates to the African American community. She will share some interesting history. Both Broyhill Chapel and the Fellowship Hall have been reserved. A reception will be held afterwards. This will be the last program that coincides with the Our Story, This Place exhibit. Please invite all participants.

Simone will include an article in the January issue of the Urban News about the videos and links online, and the plan for the meetings for 2015.

Fundraising: David has a list of potential funders he will contact after the holidays. Simone will get folders for the promotional kits. A donation was received from Joyce Anderson. She gave Dorothy Coone a check for $500. No specific use. Willa will deposit. Simone will create thank-you note cards. Would be nice to personalize with signatures from alumni.

Exhibition: Fatimah asks if additional information can be included in the exhibit: Why families moved from Ball Creek in Yancey County to Mars Hill. She heard a story from her father that the president passed a law saying if families had children who were not enrolled in school the families would be chastised. There was no school in Ball Creek, so many moved to Mars Hill to go to school. Fatimah will write the story to be included in the history. There were 7-10 families who moved. Some moved to Hot Springs, Marshall, and Asheville. In the exhibit it is stated that the families moved as a result of domestic employment. There are also stories about the KKK pressuring families out of Yancey county. There was better support for blacks in Mars Hill. The museum exhibit has been a wonderful boost to our work

On Saturday, December 27 at 10:30 a.m. the Rapps will tour the exhibit and visit the school with Martha Alexander and State Representative Rick Glasser. They are very interested in the project. Alumni are encouraged to attend. Martha Peterson, Michelle Presnell, and April Riddle are also interested in a tour of the exhibit. Willa will contact them. Martha has information on how our group can apply for federal funding. Dr. Lunsford is also available for VIP tours. Congressman Mark Meadows would like to write a letter of recommendation for the project. He would like to tour the exhibit in January 2015.

For visits to the school, Willa would like to keep the building clean. Dan proposes cutting openings in the wood covering the windows and using clear plastic to let more light into the space. Willa will ask the Conservation Society if that’s ok. The school maintenance department might be able to do something. Dan offers to help.

Fatimah reported that the information was presented clearly during the State of Things broadcast. Fatimah received 130 responses about the broadcast on her Facebook page. The broadcast has ignited more interest in the school. Les presented the history of the school. Willa talked about the vision of the committee. Fatimah shared personal stories. She spoke about bringing her mother to tour the school years later. It was a very emotional experience. Her father helped her mother get the job at the school. The broadcast went very well. It was exciting to be in the studio at WCQS. Everyone was very professional.

Other opportunities are sought to promote the school. Local news on Channel 13? It would be great to involve alumni. The panel fits together really well. The cost to attend the Our State Conference is $895. David and Willa will not be attending. Can brochures be added to the goodie bags for attendees? Can Scott print brochures?

Certificates of Appreciation were presented to the committee members. If Simone will create a certificate for Mt. Olive Church, Willa will have it framed. We are excited about 2015. An appreciation celebration will be held after the last program in February 2015. Happy Holidays!

At our January meeting we will plan for 2015 and make buttons. Should we hold alternating meetings, one month in Mars Hill and one month in Asheville?

The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, January 9 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer