A new historical marker commemorating Fauquier County's eight Rosenwald Schools will be unveiled Saturday, Aug. 3, in a ceremony at Eva Walker Park in Warrenton.
Former students, educators, families and communities of Fauquier's Rosenwald schools will gather for the unveiling of the new marker at 10 a.m.
Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, philanthropist Julius Rosenwald joined forces with African-American communities throughout the Jim Crow South to build more than 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century. Rosenwald himself never finished high school but rose to become the president of Sears and Roebuck.
The Rosenwald schools in Fauquier County included:
• Blackwelltown (Midland)
• Rectortown No. 12
• Remington No. 15 “Piney Ridge”
• Rosenwald High School (formerly “County Training”)
• Routts Hill (Bealeton)
The "county training school" became a four-year high school and was the only school that served black children while Virginia schools were segregated. The Fauquier County School Board named the school Rosenwald High School in 1933.
Children attending the Rosenwald schools “normally started our school day with devotions,” said Karen Hughes White, executive director of the historical association. Accordingly, Janet Smith will lead attendees in “Lift Every Voice and Sing," sometimes referred to as the "negro national hymn," at the start of the ceremony.
Michael L. Blakey, Ph.D. will be the featured speaker for the event. He is National Endowment for the Humanities professor of anthropology, Africana studies and American studies and director of the Institute for Historical Biology at the College of William & Mary.
Participants will gather at the J. E. Penn Family Life Center at Warrenton’s First Baptist Church, 39 Alexandria Pike, after the ceremony to share memories and enjoy refreshments. Those attending may bring lawn chairs for the park ceremony.
The process of creating Warrenton’s newest historical marker began in April 2018. White said she was contacted by Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, who offered to fund a historical interpretive marker for Fauquier County's Rosenwald schools "to tell an important part of your story in Virginia," he wrote.
Eva Walker Park was chosen for the site of the historical marker because the buildings that were formerly Rosenwald schools are no longer standing or are on private property. Also, it was decided the marker should be accessible to as many people as possible, White said.
Because 2019 is being recognized as the 400th anniversary of Africans landing on the shores of Virginia, the dedication of the marker seems especially appropriate, said White.
For more information about the historical marker or the Rosenwald schools, visit aahafauquier.org or call the AAHA at 540-253-7784.