ANDERSON — The only reproduction in the United States, of a one-room Rosenwald School built in the early twentieth century for the education of African Americans, is now located at Tri-County Technical College’s Anderson Campus.
Representatives from Tri-County Tech and the Anderson County Museum, along with key community partners, gathered Feb. 28 to celebrate and dedicate this historic building.
Westside Community Center Director Dr. Bea Thompson, who attended Mt. Pleasant Rosenwald School, gathered with around 40 alumni of the schools on the front porch as she ceremonially rang the school’s bell.
The full-scale, one-room, 900-square-foot reproduction of the Rosenwald Schools was constructed over the last several years by students in the college’s Building Construction program.
“This is a special privilege to be part of this dedication ceremony,” said Thompson, who serves on Anderson City Council. “On behalf of the community, I applaud Tim Bowen (director of the Anderson Campus), Tri-County Technical College, and Beverly Childs (executive director of the Anderson County Museum) for their leadership in the project and their vision to preserve and celebrate diversity and our cultural heritage in Anderson County. I am honored they chose the Rosenwald School project to highlight this vision. It’s only fitting that we celebrate this during Black History Month. This building stands on this campus as a legacy of a critical landmark in history.”
“You may ask, Why Rosenwald? Why Tri-County?” said Dr. Ronnie L. Booth, president of Tri-County. “At the heart, they are one and the same. It’s about access and opportunity and making education available to everyone in the community.
“Rosenwald Schools were all about providing access to education in local communities. That’s the legacy we celebrate,” Booth added. “Funds were made available so local folks could get what they so rightly deserved. Tri-County is also about access and availability at the local level for individuals who may not have had the opportunity for education. We honor our predecessors who understood that everybody has a right to access education.”
Keynote speaker was Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts.
“Mr. Julius Rosenwald was all about education,” said Roberts. “He saw a segment of society that needed a structure to be educated in. It’s up to us to do what Mr. Rosenwald did. We have to give our time, talent and treasure to do so. Rosenwald gave a lot through his treasure and his service to others. We stress the importance of education. Education is the great equalizer. Like Mr. Rosenwald, we must feel a calling to give back of our time, talent, skills and resources.”
In addition, Hattie Green and Magdalene Hawthorne, who both attended Rosenwald Schools, gave reflections on their experiences.
Hawthorne, of Oconee County, attended the Retreat Rosenwald School in Westminster and currently is working on the restoration project for that school. Green, a Belton City Council member, attended Geer Rosenwald School.
The Anderson County Museum and Tri-County entered into a partnership three years ago to develop an historical mall at the Anderson Campus. The Rosenwald School is the first project, said Bowen, who acknowledged the Westside Community Center and the Anderson County Human Relations Council, “who have helped tremendously with research and work. We’re very proud of our Rosenwald School project that celebrates the history, culture and education of the Anderson area,” he said.
“Nothing happens without great people catching hold of a vision and doing good things. This is truly a community effort,” said Bowen.