Originally created 01/18/06

Historic schools recalled

This weekend's annual Historic Aiken Foundation Celebration will involve two events.

Saturday's Rosenwald School Reunion will bring together former teachers and pupils of the black school.

Dr. Peter Ascoli, of Chicago, will talk about his grandfather, Julius Rosenwald, at a Sunday event. Dr. Ascoli is the author of Julius Rosenwald, the Man Who Built Sears Roebuck and Advanced Black Education in the American South, which will be published in May.

"(Mr. Rosenwald) worked with communities to give them seed or matching money to build schools," said Del Hickey, the president of the Aiken Historic Foundation.

The first Rosenwald Schools, which were built primarily for black children in the South, opened in 1913 and 1914. Many of the schools, which were built between 1913 and 1932, continued to operate until the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against segregation in public schools was implemented.

"There were 11 Rosenwald schools in Aiken County, and Aiken Graded was in (the city of) Aiken," Ms. Hickey said.

This school, however, is no longer standing.

"The only existing building now (in Aiken County) is in Salley, and that is on private property," Ms. Hickey said.

Beatrice McGhee, the principal of Schofield Middle School, attended a three-room Rosenwald school, Reid's Grove School in Gatesville, N.C., for two years. She plans to attend the weekend festivities.

She is looking forward to meeting Dr. Ascoli and to reminiscing with fellow Rosenwald pupils. She credited Mr. Rosenwald with making school possible for people who might not have had the opportunity otherwise.

"Mr. Rosenwald certainly was a man of vision," Mrs. McGhee said.

"I think he was aware of what was important and necessary. (And) he supported it financially and made a difference for a whole lot of people," she said.

This year marks the first time the Historic Aiken Foundation, which was started in the early 1970s, has moved its annual meeting from May to January. Ms. Hickey said she hoped the change will allow more people to attend the events.

"If you understand the history of an area, it gives you a greater understanding of what has happened, and opportunities for the future," she said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

If you go

WHAT: Rosenwald School Reunion

WHERE: Schofield Middle School, 224 Kershaw St., N.E.

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Saturday

WHAT: Dr. Peter Ascoli will discuss his book about his grandfather, Julius Rosenwald, the Man Who Built Sears Roebuck and Advanced Black Education in the American South; reception to follow

WHERE: Aiken Community Playhouse, 124 Newberry St., N.W.

WHEN: 3 p.m. SundayFor more information about either event, e-mail delhickey@bellsouth.net.


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