Remembering the pastPublished 11:27am Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Morgan County Training School may not be standing today, but it will not be forgotten.
The site of the former school, which is located on the property of the Hartselle Head Start on Bethel Street, will receive a historic marker that will recognize its history.
Specifically, its first school building, which opened in the 1920s, was built using funds from the Rosenwald Schools Initiative.
Cleo Stubbs, a former student of the MCTS, said he’s glad that the school will finally receive its recognition.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Stubbs said. “I actually didn’t even know it was a Rosenwald School until we started researching it. We’re happy that we’re finally going to get this marker recognizing the school.”
The Rosenwald Schools Initiative began in 1912 after Booker T. Washington approached Julius Rosenwald, part owner and leader of Sears, Roebuck and Company, about a concept to build rural schools for African American students. During two decades, more than 5,300 schools, vocational shops and teacher homes were built in 15 states, including Alabama.
Lee Y. Greene with the Hartselle Historical Society submitted information to the state to have the training school site listed as a historical site and to place a historical marker. He was also to enlist the help of State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to help obtain funding for the project.
“I had no idea that we had a Rosewald school right here in Hartselle before I started researching this project,” Greene said. “Rosenwald schools are such an important part of history and we had one right here.”
In December, the state approved the marker for the site. To help write the text for the marker, Greene enlisted the help of three students who participate in a tutoring program of the Morgan-Hartselle Community Task Force.
Jessica Williams, Emileigh Robb and Dakoyia Rainey have done research on the school to help the group write the short history that will be placed on the marker.
Williams and Robb said they were excited to get to participate writing a historical marker that will live on for generations.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to help write something that people will see for a long time,” Williams said.
Robb said doing the research has helped her understand more this time in history.
“I didn’t realize that black children in Hartselle didn’t have a way to go to school before this,” Robb said. “Many of the students and teachers had to come and stay with families in Hartselle during the week. After class on Friday, they went back to their homes.”
“We are blessed that we don’t have to do that now,” Williams said. “We don’t need to take what we have for granted.”
Stubbs said all of the students he’s ever known that went to the Morgan County Training School were successful.
“They have a good people who practice citizenship and responsibility and they are self-sufficient,” Stubbs said. “I don’t know if they were that way before they came to school or not, but I do believe it helped them get to where they are today.”