Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, June 12, 2015
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, June 12, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Les Reker, Charity Ray, Richard Dillingham, Ray & Dorothy Rapp, Dan Slagle, Edwin & Polly Cheek, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Sarah Hart, Teresa Phillips, Ryan Phillips, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. Only four people attended the May meeting. There were no minutes taken.
Minutes: The minutes from April 2015 were approved with the following changes: Les also attended the Apalachian Studies conference at ETSU. Les was the panel chair. Graves were discovered at Piney Grove.
Richard submitted the following changes to the April minutes:
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. Income from sales of the Os Deaver Diary will go to help protect it.
With a motion from Pauline, all present approved the corrected minutes for April 2015.
Alumni: Fatimah and Sarah attended the grand opening of the renovated Stephens Lee. A small crowd attended. There is a beautiful new floor in the gym. Both levels have been updated. There is still work to be done to finish the meeting room. Willa asks if a panel from the exhibit could be added to the room. Les thinks one panel would be great to use. As members of the Stepehns Lee Alumni, can we show a large panel? Sarah says the plan is to make a museum with an entry arch showing the history of the school, along with pamphlets. The school in Weaverville is included in the history. Our group plans to meet in Asheville at Stephens Lee beginning in July. Les says we could create a new board talking about the relationship between Stephens Lee and the Anderson Rosenwald school.
Fatimah spoke with her cousin who will be attending the homecoming and family reunion. Pamphlets and promotional packets are needed for distribution to alumni. Copies of the history are needed and can be used at Stephens Lee.
Financial Report: Willa is using the promotional packets for potential funders. Scott can print more brochures. The illustrated history is very expensive to print in color. She will be taking brochures to the conference in June and have more printed afterwards. Scott is working on the conference poster. Willa may have some brochures left after the conference. We have received cash donations from several people. These donations are shown on the budget under Willa’s name. Actual donations from Willa are listed on the budget as David & Willa Wyatt.
Construction: Scott has contributed thousands of dollars to our project through in-kind contributions. Construction can begin the week after the conference. Jimmy Willis, the land owner, will allow right of way. A joint meeting is needed with the Preservation Society, Scott and Jimmy. Beth & Lenny Ross’ son plans to build a modular home just beyond the school. The right of way was requested from the school. 16 feet clearance is needed. Bernie Edwards is the contact for the new home. The Madison County school board granted access. No indication where the lot will be. Beth & Lenny Ross donated land for the school’s electrical building.
Fundraising: Willa is working on grant applications with Karen Kiena. Karen is a great grant writer. She is also town manager in Marshall. Madison County School Foundation’s 501c3 status had been temporarily suspended. That held up our grant application. The forms have been resubmitted and the Foundation’s status is now reinstated.
The stoarge unit wil get hot. The unit costs $40/month, which Willa is paying out of pocket. The panels are stored at the museum. Les will address the repair issues. Please contact Oralene for information and contact details for the exhibit to travel to Duke University.
We have $31k. The estimate for the work on the shell is $51k. We cn order the windows. There are more prospects for funding, and David is hoping for big money. Once we begin work and progress is shown, others will become. Hopefully Wells Fargo will contribute funds. David plans to meet with Robbie Russell. Fatimah has spoken with Mr. Smith at Wells Fargo in Asheville. He says Robbie Russell is no longer with Wells Fargo. Fundraising efforts continue. Funds were received from the town of Mars Hill. David will also approach Marshall, Hot Springs, and Asheville Savings Bank. We have enough funds to begin work on the outside of the building.
Programming: Dorothy and Fatimah are talking about timing for a musical event with a choir. They are open to ideas. What should the event be like?
Rosenwald Conference: Les plans to attend the Rosenwald Conference. Ryan has designed a banner showing the panels from the exhibit. The presentation is on partnerships and the creation of the exhibit. Brochures will be distributed. Les thinks the panel talking about the committee would be nice to bring. The banner shows all of the panels and measures 4×8 feet. Les, Willa and David will be at the booth. The banner will be up by Wednesday. The presentation talkes place at 1pm on Friday, June 19.
Looking forward to networking in Raleigh. There will be lots of groups marketing their videos and books at the conference. Asheville’s Cultural Resources group will host a session on storing and preserving artifacts. The National Rosenwald Conference takes place June 17-20 in Raleigh. All are invited to attend. You must purchase tickets. Les is going Thrusday-Friday. Willa & David are going Tues-Sat.
Interviews: Richard and Teresa will interview David Briscoe. He’ll be here for one week. His story is very inspiring. No details have been set. Ryan will tape the interview, either at Charity’s house or at the church. Don Murray will also be interviewed by Teresa. He owns the property where Joe Anderson lived.
Pauline has found additional interviews with local community residents, Lapearl Jones and Anita Ray. Jones is a descendent from Alexander. Great musician, related to Roberta Flack. Their family reunion will be held in August in Asheville. Complex story. Descendant was born in and also taught in Weaverville. David asks if Flack would be interested in funding our project. She was born in Black Mountain. Sarah Hart has contact information.
History: No report. Rosenwald school plans were used throughout our area. Rosenwald school funds were used for our school.
Media: Simone can produce a black and white version of the illustrated history which will cost less to print. The school is listed in Making Madison Memories. Simone has paid our annual membership dues to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. As a member, our group can display brochures at the Visitors Center in Mars Hill.
Other Projects: Les hosts a program on Madison County Community Radio. Willa will be a guest speaker. The show airs on Friday’s at 2pm, Tuesday at 10am, and Sunday at 1pm. He has interviewed Oralene. The program will air today. It is streaming now. Go the the Arts Council’s website to listen. The signal goes as far as Weaverville, and almost to Hot Springs. The title of Les’ show is Madison County Days.
We need to begin planning now to have a brown highway sign for the Rural Heritage Museum and the Anderson Rosenwald School. Signs would be needed at Main Street and at the gateway corner on Long Ridge Road. The site and school need to be secured. The school is insured by the county school system. An appraisal is need for the school since new work is being done. Willa will contact Michelle Wallin.
An exhibit on the railway will go up in two weeks at the Rural Heritage Museum. Ray Rapp helped plan the exhibit, which focuses on the 1880s. Dorothy worked on the educational component. Ryan did the intro video. The exhibit will be up for six months. Convict labor was used to build the rail line; mainly African American’s. Many died. The next exhibit will be on black and white families.
Looking Ahead: Dan Slagle asks for a work day. The floor tiles need to be pulled up. Has scraper. Dates needed. A weekday would be great. The ceiling tiles have been removed. The bead board needs to be removed and cleaned up, and nails pulled. The beadboard could be used for the walls. David will talk to Jimmy and Scott. Volunteers needed.
The presentation for the Blue Ridge Life Long Learning Center was cancelled. Only seven people registered. We could reschedule. Possibly invite them to visit the school in 2016. The group likes the idea. We could host a lunch at the end of spring 2016.
Willa and David will be out of town on July 10. No meeting will be held in Mars Hill. The next meeting will be a jint meeting held in Asheville on July 24.
The meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, July 24 at 3 p.m. at Stephens Lee in Asheville.