Rosenwald News


Last updated 10/2/2019 at 4:38pm

Pictured left to right are members of the CLG sub-committee: Maurice Jones, Edith Darity, Nicola Karesh, Rebecca Suddeth and Marcy Thompson, along with Michael Ann Williams and Sydney Varajon. (Courtesy photos)

I swear just the other day it was New Year's Day and, now, all of a sudden, the end of 2019 is in sight. Time has just zipped on by. Take precious time to smell those roses. Be kind to yourself. Include your neighbor.

With a spotlight on people and current news, I met with community resident, Gloria Hunter, this week. Our conversation mainly revolved around gardening and the beautification of our surroundings. Gloria has done a wonderful job to make where she lives inviting, attractive and welcoming. Add her cheerful and upbeat manner and you are surrounded by good vibes.

Gloria moved to this area in 2016 from Columbia, S.C. She lives minutes from downtown Brevard, creating a pocket heaven for herself: "I have lived here for about three years and three months. Yes, I have family here. My son, Earl Hunter, Jr., lives here. He is the CEO at Sylvan Sports."

We got sidetracked for a minute talking about campers and outdoor gear that we'd enjoy.

Gloria continued regarding her gardening efforts: "I've done it myself for the last few years. I'd be happy to have help any time with weeding or putting something new in the ground."

We go outside of her apartment to see first-hand what she has created. To the front, basking in the morning sunlight, picture Gloria's happily growing squash, green and jalapeno peppers, radishes and tomatoes.

"I already got tomatoes," she smiles proudly, "For three years, I've planted different things. This was the first time that I ever grew anything in my life. I'm going to try, is what I said to myself."

With seeds that she got from the Sharing House: "I threw the seeds out."

Well, lo and behold, the seeds took. After the edibles are "finished," Gloria shared, "I'll add flowers...something to make it look nice." She was conscientious too about beautifying shared space with other residents.

Through "The Peace Tree Garden Project" and a generous grant from the Hunger Coalition to purchase edibles for the project, Gloria is one of many recipients about to receive blueberry bushes, possibly other plants that produce food, for her building. Write or give me a call if you would like information about "The Peace Tree Garden Project" and how you can be involved.

Last month, local visionary and historian, Edith Darity, presented information about black history to a large Vision Transylvania class. Customarily, our presentation follows a spell-binding journey about Native American history in our area. We are always happy to get to the event a little early to catch some of that narrative.

History is fascinating to me. Even the parts that make us cringe or wish that we could just gloss over them, they serve to inform and educate. The purpose of history is to narrate events as precisely and as accurately as one is able. They tell a story. They leave a blueprint of what came before. Hopefully, we use what we learn to make better choices wherever possible and to create the best today and tomorrow that we can envision.

Remember the old Clemson theatre? Once upon a time, prior to integration, non-whites came in a side door on South Caldwell Street.

They climbed upstairs to sit in the balcony area. Whites occupied the lower level. Their entrance was on Main Street where you would now enter our Co-Ed Cinema. Whether you like it or not, that is a part of history. You will encounter black people today who may still refuse to go to the now integrated theatre because of what once was, even though the practice is different, and we now can co-mingle on one level. You may encounter white people, who might feel sad, ashamed, guilty about how it was. You many find others who wish nothing had ever changed.

Speaking of history, a small group of us applied for a Z. Smith Reynolds grant at the end of last year. We advanced to stage 2, had a site visit from that organization, and discovered, I believe back in May, that we were one of the grant recipients. A total of $23,000 will be dedicated to historic signage. By next year, you will be able to see 35 sites within Transylvania County that will have a sign depicting some part of local black history. A few of the places: Jip Mills Store, Greasy Corner, Mary C. Jenkins Community Center, Cooper's Cemetery, Glade Creek Baptist Church, Rosenwald School and more. The project is "The African American Storyline Project."

It is a nonprofit project under the Community Focus Foundation and a Morning Glory Inspirations initiative. Stay tuned.

Last weekend, two of us (myself and Joan from the NAACP Health committee) made a trek down to Jackson County Library in Sylva for a Community Advisory Board meeting. We were collaborators for a "Race, Rural and Health" project, joined by peers from neighboring counties. We began the morning, sharing one thing that we noticed on our drive over. Coming from Asheville, Franklin, Cherokee, points in between, and our own Pisgah Forest and Brevard, to a T, our gorgeous North Carolina landscape was referenced over and over. That felt significant as we got into our conversation about the heart of health.

May we always remember to give thanks for our land, waters, and the fresh air that envelops us and the friends that we encounter each day. Our time together was productive, enjoyable and moved quite quickly.

From Ameena Batada, associate professor at UNC Asheville: "The purpose of the meeting was to gather the Community Advisory Board (CAB) in order to obtain input and direction on the next steps of the research project, newly named 'The Heart of Health: Race, Place, and Faith!' The research project explores the relationship of race and racism and health among African Americans in rural Western North Carolina, and the ways that the church influences health."

Last, but not least, earlier in the month, Michael Ann Williams and Sydney Varajon presented a slideshow of their architectural and oral history findings.

The presentation was entitled, "Walking Around the World: African American Landscapes and Experience in Transylvania County, NC."

I liked what Michael Ann shared about the information that was gathered. She did not want it to simply sit in a drawer or be tucked away in a file.

We will let you know different places where you will be able to access the information. Closing with a quote from Varajon: "We have truly enjoyed the experience of getting to know, work with, and learn from you and all the community members we've been able to meet.

We have genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside you all this summer, and we appreciate all the ways folks made us feel welcome. Each person we talked with displayed such generosity with their time, knowledge and trust. We are grateful to everyone who shared their stories and memories with us. It was all of these voices together that made the buildings and sites come alive.

We have learned so much about Rosenwald and other places across Transylvania County, past and present. While some buildings may be gone, people and their stories endure.

It's exciting to think about the impressive work that was already happening in the community before we arrived, and we look forward to seeing how that work continues. Thank you for letting us share a small part in the process. It has truly been a privilege to get to know the community – the buildings, the stories and, especially, the people."

(Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, let me know at or call (828) 421-8615. Enjoy your week.)

Pictured is the Community Advisory Board for the "The Heart of Health: Race, Place, and Faith" group. The Saturday meeting was held at Jackson County Public Library in Sylva.


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