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Success Stories

Saving Virginia’s Past

Posted on May 20, 2014

Picture of Rosenwald Schools in VA

They opened doors to an education that had long been denied to many in the South. They offered a sense of community, and they inspired hope. For decades, they stood strong in the face of the struggle for educational equality, but now, these historic symbols are vanishing.

Here in Virginia, an estimated 30 percent of Rosenwald schools remain standing. Also quietly slipping away are the memories of those who worked or received their education at Rosenwald schools.

Ongoing efforts to save these school buildings and to preserve the stories surrounding them inspired members of John Tyler Community College’s faculty to get involved. They reached out into the community and began collaborating with preservationists, historians and other educators on a number of projects tied to these historic sites.

One of the biggest projects stems from a partnership with Preservation Virginia. In February 2014, John Tyler and Preservation Virginia co-hosted Saving Virginia’s Rosenwald Schools, an event that drew 75 people from across the Commonwealth to Tyler’s Chester Campus. Among the attendees were representatives from 16 Rosenwald schools, including alumni; preservationists; researchers; academics; students; and history buffs. All were eager to share stories, exchange ideas, and discuss successes and failures in their personal efforts to preserve the memories and legacy of these schools.

Gerrick Waters, a Tyler student who attended the event, shared, “I found the presentation interesting because there are several Rosenwald schools in the area where I grew up. My parents and grandparents all attended Rosenwald schools during their school age years.”

Other preservation projects involving John Tyler faculty and students are highlighted in this news release.

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