At the “back” side of the Bremo plantations, there’s a community of African American families, many of whom have ties back to the days of slavery on those plantations. If you’ve read my book The Slaves Have Names, you know many of those families – the Creasys, the Thomases, the Smiths, and many more.
Within this community, there is a beautiful school called Dunbar. Dunbar was an original Rosenwald School, built in 1923-24, using funds from the local community, the Rosenwald Fund (started by Julius Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck, Inc.) and the local government. These schools were often the ONLY source of education for African American children in rural areas of the South.
Dunbar was open until the 1950s, and so many people I know attended this school up through 8th grade or so before moving over to the local black high, Abrams, for the final years of their education.
As you may know, many Rosenwald Schools are in danger of collapse due to neglect and disuse, but my friends Carmen and Stanley Smith are working hard to save Dunbar. For the past few years, they have been tirelessly cleaning the school, shoring up its structure, and working to make it a community center for everyone in the area. (You can see some phenomenal pictures of the school here.)
We Can Help
Carmen and Stanley are in the midst of a major fundraising campaign so that they can complete the restoration and the transformation of this building. If you would like to contribute – and I hope you will – please follow this link and make your donation. (Please note – there is a problem with the site at this moment, so please keep trying if you’d like to donate.)
If you’ve read my book Charlotte and the Twelve, then you know I believe these important pieces of history and community story are vital in our process of healing and knowing one another as a nation. I cannot wait to see what Carmen and Stanley do here, and I hope you will join me in being part of this great work.