Multiplying Memories: Lessons in Leadership ALUMNI RECOLLECTIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN SCHOOLS UNDER SEGREGATIONEducation Is About Making Connections—Research • Oral History • Heritage February 2013 WHAT IS PAST IS PROLOGUE By Cynthia Boteler Students often comment on how they find history The Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for the Civil difficult—all those dates and facts. But why is it Rights movement. These men and women became Special Points of interest: important, and what does it all mean? Who leaders, and the following generations of African decides what goes into the textbooks? From Americans could point with pride at the Tuskegee STUDENTS HELP PRESERVE LOCAL whose perspective are we learning about and Airmen, in the air and on the ground, who proved HISTORY. interpreting history? to the world once more that they were equal to their European-American counterparts. LEADERSHIP SKILLS LEARNED Since 2004, my own search to understand my FROM ALUMNI OF SEGREGATED SCHOOLS. family’s history led me to ponder these same questions. What I found was that making a personal connection to history enables us to start LOCAL SCHOOLS CONNECTED understanding the implications of the history of TO NATIONAL SCHOOL BUILDING our nation. However, more is required of us. Can PROGRAM. we accept the truth of our family’s, community’s, state’s and country’s role in history—whatever ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS that may be? Will we make a conscious decision ARCHIVED IN REGIONAL to read between the lines, to do our own research Moton Airfield, Tuskegee, Alabama LIBRARIES. rather than accept what we are told by family, friends, teachers and the media? Upon a recent field trip to Richmond, Virginia AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY IS How do we feel when we are told, “that’s just the to visit the Museum of the Confederacy, Virginia AMERICAN HISTORY, TWELVE way it was back then.” But then, you wonder State Capitol and the Civil War Center at MONTHS A YEAR. about that when you see that not everyone lived Tredegar, students commented that they that way. Denial rewrites or deletes history, enjoyed the tour of the State Capitol the most causing confusion. Acceptance fills in the gaps as it presented both the past and the present. and starts answering the questions. Comments were also made about standing in the footsteps of history makers. Inside this issue: “I BELIEVE THE YOUNG PEOPLE WOULD These trips highlight the importance of heritage SEE WHY WE FEEL EDUCATION IS SO tourism as an effective teaching tool. The study IMPORTANT. IT WAS WORTH THE ORAL HISTORY: PART I 2 of history is about making connections—both STRUGGLE AND STILL IS." tangible and intangible—to present-day life. —Watson High School Alumnus It is the job of educators to help students make ORAL HISTORY: PART II 2 Covington, Virginia connections between what they read in the pages of history to what they are experiencing DOCUMENTARY FILM 2 Researching African American history has led me today. to my family’s history on numerous occasions. Prior to this point, I had never heard of Tuskegee, but LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP 3 On a field trip to Washington, D.C. in 2007, this past summer, I attended a conference there I passed by the National Archives and saw the and discovered a family connection. My father, a words, “What is past is prologue,” etched into ROSENWALD SCHOOL 3 fighter pilot in WWII, who was part of the D-Day the north side of the building. These words CONFERENCE AT TUSKEGEE invasion, returned to the U.S. after flying 80 planted seeds that bring me to this point today. UNIVERSITY missions, to become a flight instructor in Walter- The essence of Sankofa, a West African boro, SC. Researching Walterboro, I discovered proverb, states that you must know where you VIRGINIA FOUNDATION FOR 3 that it was where some of the Tuskegee Airmen have been before you know where you are THE HUMANIITIES GRANT received their advanced flight training. While in going. My hope is that students will begin to Tuskegee, I visited Moton Airfield where I learned incorporate this concept into their own lives and that my father is considered a Tuskegee Airman start to search for their past in order to move CYNTHIA BOTELER 4 as is anyone who worked for the program in any forward into their future. BIOGRAPHY capacity.
Multiplying Memories: Lessons in Leadership ORAL HISTORY PART I—A Sample Oral History Project: Connecting Students to Their Community and Preserving Local History College students participated in different Students assisted with the recording of four aspects of implementing an oral history alumni from two African American schools in project focusing on the remembrances of the service area of Dabney S. Lancaster alumni who attended segregated schools Community College, Clifton Forge, Virginia. in Alleghany and Bath counties in Virginia. The goal of this project was to provide Cynthia Boteler received funding for students with a method of self-discovery and both oral history projects from Paul Lee identification of their story that incorporates Professional Development Grants from their culture and their region. Students from the Virginia Community College System different college curriculum interacted and (VCCS) in the Summer of 2010 and worked on various aspects of a project that 2011, respectively, through Dabney S. will bring enduring educational value to the Lancaster Community College (DSLCC). community. ORAL HISTORY PART II—Multiplying Memories: Researching, Organizing and Archiving the Educational Experiences of African Americans in the Alleghany Highlands, 1930s to 1960s A second oral history project, conducted to inventory and digitize the scrapbooks, in 2011, focused on the Jefferson School, documents and memorabilia pertaining in Clifton Forge, Virginia, but also to these schools. The long-term goal will included scanning collections of provide content to create a website for photographs and documents pertaining an “historic African American school to other schools in the area, such as community,” enabling alumni and Watson School in Covington, Virginia. descendants to research their heritage. The project included preliminary meetings with alumni who shared details and DSLCC students interviewed alumni and photographs of their experiences. helped digitally scan and catalogue Several photographs were loaned for images. scanning and inclusion in a future project. Volunteers helped to continue the interview process, but a major focus was The Watsonians: These Are Our Stories—Watson Elementary/High School, 1882 to 1966 Supported by Coming to the Table, a high school and several public library program of the Center for Justice and Peace- Black History programs and other venues. building at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Boteler’s documentary film was one of six projects selected nation- Approximately two weeks after the wide in an effort to support community premiere of the film, Boteler discovered projects (one hour and twenty-two minute that the two schools in Bath County are feature length documentary film). Rosenwald Schools, built in 1924-1925 and 1929-1930 as part of the Rosenwald School building program developed by The film focuses on the telling of first-hand Booker T. Washington, president of narratives from the perspective of teachers Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Watson Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, and students who were among the genera- president of Sears Roebuck Company. tions of African American families who Roanoke native, Montres Henderson Between 1912 and 1932, approximately attended segregated schools before federal and his crew filmed during the12th 5,000 Rosenwald schools were built across legislation mandated integration. The film has annual Watson School Reunion in 2010. fifteen states in the south. three parts: Education, Football and Mr. Henderson edited the film along with Integration. Excerpts from alumni interviews Ms. Boteler and Ms. Perlista Henry, a are woven into the documentary, interspersed 1964 graduate of Watson School. Ms. with historic photographs of four different Henry narrated and Ms. Boteler filmed communities in Alleghany and Bath Counties in the Bath County portion of the film and Virginia. Yearbook photographs, mementos assembled all of the photographs and and memorabilia belonging to various alumni narrative. To date, approximately 1,400 were also included. people have viewed the film at college,Page 2
Multiplying Memories: Lessons in LeadershipWorkshop Developed for Black Leadership ConferenceMultiplying Memories: Lessons in Leadership The goal is for students to developis a 50-minute multimedia presentation and value tools through which they candeveloped for and presented at the 5 th embrace and acknowledge contributionsAnnual Black Leadership Conference, LIFE and lessons from the past and translate(Living Intentionally for Excellence) 101: It’s them into meaningful applications to theA Celebration, hosted by Virginia Western present. The experience is expected toCommunity College in Roanoke, Virginia in impact workshop participants to theFebruary of 2012. extent that they will rededicate them- selves to their personal, educationalHighlights of the oral history projects and Despite the many challenges faced by and occupational goals.documentary film provided the basis for both teachers and students in the small,creating Multiplying Memories: Lessons in rural segregated Black schools in Virginia’s Students are challenged to start aLeadership. The workshop encouraged Western Highlands, the overriding theme Multiplying Memories program in theirstudents to make connections with local that permeated the oral history project was community. The goal is to eventually havehistory, community service projects and the unwavering focus on excellence. The a program in all 23 community colleges ineducation to their future as leaders in the teachers expected no less than excellence in Virginia.community and in the workplace. Partici- student performance, and as such, the pride inpants discussed the meaning of leadership the schools is evident—during every interviewas exemplified in the film and the role of and every scene of the film.community.National Rosenwald School Conference: “Celebrating 100 years of Pride, Progress and Preservation”Sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation During the closing plenary session at the Education, denied to the enslaved by National Rosenwald School Conference, law, was of paramount importance Jacquelyn Days Serwer, Chief Curator for the during Reconstruction and still is to this Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of day. Religion and faith enabled African African American History & Culture, announced Americans to endure and rise above a plans to create a Rosenwald School exhibit for cruel, unjust society that benefited from the museum’s opening. Rising from the only their labor, both before and after remaining space on the National Mall, the Emancipation. When these buildings and museum will take its place next to the stories are gone, there will be no visible The Oaks, home of Booker T. Washington Washington Monument between the National reminders of this important heritage. The Tuskegee University Museum of American History and 15th Street. physical loss of historic African American February 22, 2012 marked the official structures and oral history is tantamountIn June 2012, Boteler received a scholarship groundbreaking ceremony for the museum, to the loss of cultural heritage andto attend the National Rosenwald School scheduled to open in 2015. history.Conference, sponsored by the National Trustfor Historic Preservation, June 14-16, 2012 Descendants of Booker T. Washington andat Tuskegee University. Julius Rosenwald spoke at the event.Ethnohistoric Research on the Rosenwald Schools of Bath County:Millboro School (T.C. Walker School) and Switchback School (Union Hurst School)A work in progress, this project encompasses This project celebrates The Nationalcomprehensive research of the Switchback Rosenwald Schools Conference theme ofand the Millboro schools, two Rosenwald pride, progress and preservation, honoringSchools built during the segregation era in this legacy in Bath County, Virginia and allBath County, Virginia, serving students for the people in the African American Millboro School Switchback Schoolforty years. The primary goal is to provide a community who helped support the tourism (T.C. Walker School) (Union Hurst School)thorough documentation from a variety of industry at the Homestead Resort and othersources to ensure that the African American hotels, inns, private homes, farms, businesses Dr. Lynn Rainville, an anthropologist andcommunity’s school history is not lost. In and enterprises in the local community. historian based in Charlottesville, Virginia,addition, it is important that this information is was a speaker at the National Rosenwaldshared within the African American community School Conference at Tuskegee and is the Bath County Historical Society Presents: humanities scholar for this project. Dr.and made accessible to the schools, othermembers of the community and visitors as Documenting African American History from School Board Minutes, Rainville will post information from Ms.well as the broader Rosenwald School Newspapers and Recollections of Alumni—Cynthia Boteler Boteler’s research on her website, Thecommunity in Virginia. A Survey of Rosenwald Schools in Virginia—Dr. Lynn Rainville Rosenwald Schools of Virginia. May 9. 2013 at 7:00 pm This project is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the The Dairy at The Homestead Preserve, Photographs courtesy of Bath County Historical Society Humanities, Bath County Historical Society and Virginia Hot Warm Springs, VA Springs Preservation Trust Page 3