Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, March 13, 2015
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, March 13, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Dan Slagle, Dorothy Coone, Charity Ray, Richard Dillingham, Ray & Dorothy Rapp, Fatimah Shabazz, Omar McClain, Teresa Phillips, Ryan Phillips, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. A groundbreaking will be held at MHU so the meeting has to be short; Richard and Ray will be leaving to attend.
Fundraising: David secured a contribution of $15,000 from the TDA. He will meet with the grant committee. David and Willa worked for three days on the proposal to TDA. There are two pending donors: Wells Fargo and The State Employees Credit Union. Robbie Russell from Wells Fargo toured the exhibit for two hours. David will meet with him next week. Robbie really wants to support the project. The support would come from the Asheville office, not the corporate headquarters. A sample of the promotional packet was shared with the group. David is requesting the full amount needed for the rehabilitation. He has four new contacts. Olson Huff and Mary Ann Rice from Barnardsville were instrumental in getting funds for Mission Hospital.
Willa’s Report: Willa distributed a report that totals all activity through February 2015. Michael is preparing the financial statements for us. We need to acknowledge donors. They get a letter from the Board of Education, and a letter from Willa. Thank you notes would be cost efficient; a printed card with a handwritten statement. Simone can make notecards with Charity’s painting on the cover. Melba at Top Line can work with us on gifts to acknowledge donors at various levels. French Broad EMC and TDA do not want to be acknowledged or publicized. $100 was donated at the exhibit.
Programming: Dorothy reported that the red hot performance planned for February was cancelled due to weather. Fatimah and Omar are interested in a thank you gathering to acknowledge contributors. Can we schedule another date? Would be a great opportunity to update our supporters. Fatimah will look at dates. We can use the same invitations with a sticker placed over the date. We could coordinate the event with miniority groups on MHU campus and host it at Broyhill Chapel. Lots of people were looking forward to the event.
The cherry tree will be planted this spring. Mark Norwood will schedule this student organized event. The dedication will be held in the fall. Dorothy thanked everyone for participating in past events.
History: Richard is working with Dorothy Coone to identify where residents lived in the Long Ridge and Piney Ridge communities. The photo used on the front of the notated history needs to state that it was taken in a Roesnwald School classroom, not from our Rosenwald School.
Dan has microfilm from the Yancey County Board of Education. Did Yancey County students attend the Mars Hill School? In July 1956 the Madison county board voted to accept negro students from Yancey. Yancey was to bear the expense of converting the school to two rooms. This did not happen. Some minutes are missing. In 1954 the board visited the colored church in Yancey to see if the basement could be used without rent. It could be used all year with the addition of three doors. In 1956 Yancey asks the Asheville city school board to allow high school students to attend Stephens Lee, and 7th and 8th grades to attend the colored junior high school. Lincoln Park school was a dilapidated one-room schoolhouse in Yancey county. Before 1959 students attended school in the basement of Griffith’s Chapel Church. Dan distributed a sheet detailing his research.
No black students came from Yancey to Mars Hill. Students were bused from Yancey to Asheville. Could be the school on Hill Street. Yancey integrates their high school in 1960 or 1961. The elementary school was integrated in 1963. Details based on the 2011 thesis by Asheley Cole Brewer from Appalchian State, “Get on Board, the Story of Integration in Yancey County.”
Omar asks if the Ponder Church in Marshall was used as a school. The church in Hot Springs was used as a school. MHU archives contain the Griffin family history of school integration from Yancey County. Can we request the originals?
Kelly Navies’ program was really good. She talked about busing students into Asheville. She is related to the Gudger family. Yancey/Madison county integration was covered. Ruben Daily, an attorney, helped black families in 1959. Daily then helped Mars Hill families seeking higher education. These students were bused into Asheville. The story of Gary the bus driver is needed. Stories of whites, both good and bad, are needed. Fatimah is looking for dates her father’s family (uncle Walt) may have attended
In the 1870s families moved into the area from Yancey for domestic work and to attend school. Some students needed to work. The county insisted they attend school.
Interviews: Teresa will schedule an interview with Mrs. Moore in Hot Springs. Ryan filmed the exhibit while Les narrated. Ryan will create a DVD. He can include the film “Bonded” and the other interview from Elon College. The DVD could be sold for fundraising. MHU owns the film “Bonded.” Les has to agree for the Rural Heritage Museum. A written agreement is needed.
Construction: David will meet with Scott. We are working on Phase I, repair the shell, (51k). We are close to raising funds for that. Plans are to go forward with shell repairs, then begin work on the inside. Plans are neded for a work day. Remove tiles and ceiling. The town will carry off the the land fill. First phase beginning soon. Jimmy Willis is willing to be the contractor. David plans to move ahead as soon as the money is in. Work will begin on the windows and the shell. Willa set an opening date for the first weekend in September.
Mark Norwood can lead the master plan for the grounds. He helped wih the trail around the school. He needs to meet with Scott Donald. Plans are to include natural plantings and shrubs from the era. The town of Mars Hill is planning to run a new water line in the spring or summer. The bathroom addition will be rebuilt.
Other Projects: A poster is needed for the National Rosenwald School conference. Should measure 4×8 feet. Needs to roll-up or be portable. The poster will show how the exhibit helped us share our story. It will include historic letters from the county school board. Willa is working with Ryan. It should be completed by June. Scott can have it printed. Catherine Carrie, our contact at the conference, says we can have electric hookup for a video/DVD. Willa will man the booth for one and a half hours during the conference.
Willa has rented a 5×10 foot storage unit to hold the materials from the exhibit: the desks, blackboard, and the panels. The privy is dismantled. The panels are peeling and need to be repaired. Should be repiared by the manufacturers. Les is contacting someone. Estimated costs are needed for transporting and displaying the exhibit. The storage facility is not climate controlled.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Foundation received our grant. Applications are accepted for programming. Sandra is checking with Karen Kiena. Sandra and Charles Tolley plan to donate $1,000 for the rehabilitation of the school. Prospective donors like to see that board members have made financial contributions in addition to in-kind contributions. It doesn’t have to be a big donation. Contributions needed from our regularly attending committee members. As a group we need to show that a monetary contribtution has been made. A decision is needed by April on the amount. The contribution shows our commitment to the project. Donations in small increments also accepted.
Alumni: Fatimah needs more brochures.
Looking Ahead: Our story has been shared in dozens of ways: print, radio, web, the exhibit, and special events. Our promotional kit now includes a floor plan, a copy of our strategic plan, a financial report, potential uses for the school, and Fisk University’s list of historic schools and places. It also includes the brochure, a hand fan, the notated history, and copies of newspaper articles. Willa is waiting to hear from Ultimate Ice Cream. She will send them a note about our progress.
A potential fundraiser: Bernie Edwards is working with Cress Mountain to plan a music event. He shared stories about our project with a Motown music group. An event could be held the Saturday after Easter at the Woodfin Community Center. Dinner, film and music. These are excellent performers from Detroit. They do their own advertising and will donate the proceeds from the event. Theme is Motown meets Rhythm & Blues.
Paint colors will be determined by tests run by the Department of Cultural Resources. Plans are to keep the foundation enclosed. Fatimah has a security expert who might be interested in donating. Other potential contributors are needed. We can ask local companies. HVAC? Ask Austin Heating & Cooling. Pat Franklin has a piano she would like to donate.
The building would have a dual purpose: display the materials from the exhibit, and be used as a community/work space. Could be divided the same way it was originally. The display could be on moveable panels which could be used as a divider. Willa contacted Biltmore Estate to find out how they tell their story. What about the use of headphones?
A work day is planned for April 11, the Saturday after Easter. Work from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. Scaffolding needed for work on ceiling. Don Murray may have scaffolding. Bring your own lunch.
Willa asked April Riddle about an historical marker/highway sign. Handmade in America arranges the Historical Trails signs. Can we indentify the WNC Rosenwald School locations? Would be for 25 counties. We can lead and share our findings with the Department of Travel and Tourism. We can begin the process to be placed on the National Historic Registry. We are currently on the study list. A temporary sign about the rehabilitaiton could be placed at the gateway to the community.
The ETSU panel takes place March 27-29 in Johnson City. This is the planel organized by Les Reker. On June 30 we will present our history for the Blue Ridge Center for Life Long Learning. Bios are needed from the panelists. The Rosenwald School conference also takes place in June. Willa will ask the church about a bus for transporting everyone. It will be up to each person to pay for their tickets and hotel expenses.
$100 was sent to Stephens Lee for lifetime membership. Les will get a copy of the guestbook from the exhibit for us. Legacy Film’s documentary about the school will be amazing!
The meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.