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Rosenwald News


Last updated 1/27/2021 at 4:52pm

This is the first post from Rosenwald News in 2021, so Happy New Year to everyone, inside and outside of our Rosenwald community.

This past weekend, if you were not aware of it, there was an online webinar that took place, called "A Way Out of No Way: African American Quest for Quality Education." In the book, "The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860 – 1935," author James Anderson states, "A central theme in the history of Black Americans is the persistent struggle to fashion a system of formal education that prefigured their liberation from peasantry."

On Saturday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Heritage Alive hosted the virtual session. The session focused on efforts in the Carolina Piedmont to create quality educational experiences for students in Greenville and Anderson, S.C., and in Brevard.

Four speakers shared their perspectives on this important movement from 1912 to 1970, centering on the role of Rosenwald schools in this quest. I am proud to say that one of our own Rosenwald alumni, Clifford Outlaw, was one of the featured speakers. He hit a practical obstacle at the beginning, not having participated in webinars and Zoom meetings. Fortunately, he was interested in learning how to master all of the technical aspects ahead of time and he navigated the webinar, "signing on like a professional, having both picture and voice. It was great! The guys happened to be of my era, so a lot of geographical memories were referenced." If you are interested in hearing the recorded session, please contact me for that link, when it is made available. A huge "thank you" to Gregory McKee for reaching out to us about this wonderful opportunity.

In other news, the Mary C. Jenkins Community Center board met this past Sunday online. Part of our business for that day's agenda was to officially welcome our three newest board members: Elizabeth Pell, William E. Hemphill and William Mills.

Pell moved to Brevard three years ago with her husband, Howie Granat. They live within Rosenwald, and, in a relatively short time, have immersed themselves in our community in positive and supportive ways. Elizabeth holds a Master's degree in social work and a Bachelor's degree in health care management. She has been an advocate for people with disabilities, older adults, human and civil rights for over 45 years. In all the positions Pell has held, her passions have been health equity and advocating for the voice and preference of individuals and families to be heard and respected.

Since moving to Brevard, Pell has served on the United Way of Transylvania County's board, where she led a health care allocations team. For the past three years, Elizabeth has been a Rise & Shine tutor, volunteering, as well, on the gardening and composting initiatives and as a Hiking guide taking scholars on weekly hikes.

"This past year, I served as co-chair of Motown, with Su Slover, where we led the organization to transition from an in-person to a virtual celebration and fundraising event, Motown in Four Part Harmony. It was the most successful fundraiser in the history of the program," she said.

Pell is involved with several other local organizations and projects, a few of which include Moving to Conservers, Friends of Davidson River School, DuPont State Forest trail building and Trash Busters, Conserving Carolina's Bracken Preserve trail care.

Also joining the MCJCC board is William E. Hemphill, he shared.

"I was born and raised here in Transylvania County," he said. "Edna K. Hemphill was my mother. She died in '06. I live next door to my father, William Hemphill Sr., over in Hudlin Gap. Both my parents were graduates of Brevard, as was I. After graduating from BHS, I went to Mars Hill College on a sports scholarship. I was a '92 graduate, receiving my Bachelor's degree in physical education."

Hemphill's next move on his career path was the 89th patrol school.

"I've been a Transylvania County state trooper for the past 20 plus years," he said. "I am a North Carolina master trooper since 1998."

Troopers who complete 15 years of satisfactory or exceptional service are promoted to the rank of master trooper, a rank above senior trooper.

Hemphill announced his plans to retire.

"I am looking forward to that," he said. "It will be a different pace altogether. Of course, I will still be involved with community efforts. I want to be around and involved all the time, not just when its campaign time."

We are pleased that Hemphill is a part of our MCJCC family.

Last but not least, William Mills, who we have featured before in the Rosenwald News, is a 1977 Brevard High School graduate. Mills was born and raised in Brevard and currently serves as the executive and program director at Rise & Shine.

"After serving in the United States Army for over 30 years, I joined the Rise & Shine team in December 2017," he said.

William's goal is to be effective in a management and leadership role for Rise & Shine to realize its mission.

"I am grateful that God has allowed me to return to the place, where I was raised as a young boy," working directly with scholars at Rise & Shine," he said.

He also expressed gratitude, "to give back what so many worked so hard to give to me and others of my generation."

Mills devotes much of his time in collaboration with other community-based organizations, meeting with school officials and creating innovative initiatives that will help youth succeed in life.

"We are here for them each and every day, because we have faith in who they are, and who they will become."

Mills is a welcome addition to the MCJCC board.

Welcome to the 3 new Mary C. Jenkins Community Center board members: William Mills, Elizabeth Pell and William E. Hemphill, pictured with wife Angie. (Courtesy photos)

Lastly, at some point this year, look out for six additional historic signs, thanks to a recent grant from Dogwood Health Trust. The African American Storyline Project is a nonprofit project under the umbrella of Morning Glory Inspirations. Last year, we highlighted some of the installed markers. Sign 16 – Ms. Mat's and Ms. Dot's Store – was one of those featured signs. Thanks to Sid Outlaw who reached out to me online to share additional remembrances: "So many memories of going to Aunt Dot's store down on the corner. She used to have different flavored tootsie rolls: grape, strawberry, lemon (but in a green and yellow wrapper) and the regular chocolate ones. It was the highlight of the day. She would also save me one of the orange sodas, because folks would come and buy them all before I could get there after school. Gosh, I remember her and Aunt Mattie so fondly. I used to go up to the house on Saturdays with my dad and would hang out on the hill between Aunt Mattie's and Aunt Robbie's house...Great times. Thank you for sharing this. In addition, if I'm not mistaken, my dad was born in Aunt Mattie's house. I think she helped deliver him."

Any suggestions, recommendations for the additional historical markers, please contact me.

(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, please let me know. Enjoy your week. Nicola Karesh may be reached at [email protected] or (828) 421-8615)


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