BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Kristen Baldwin Deathridge, Pam Mitchem and Dea Rice received $9,877 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to help preserve and share the story of the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School in Wilkesboro by hosting a one-day event at the school for alumni and community members.
Deathridge is an assistant professor in Appalachian’s Department of History; Mitchem is an associate professor and the coordinator of Digital Scholarship and Initiatives (DSI) in Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian; and Rice is an assistant professor and digital projects librarian in Belk Library and Information Commons.
According to Deathridge, Lincoln Heights — a large Rosenwald School for African-Americans — operated from 1924-68. The school educated and employed black southerners through the Jim Crow era and the height of the 20th-century civil rights movement.
Since the school’s closure, Deathridge said, alumni and community members have been working to preserve and share their story, and have invited members of Appalachian’s history department and Belk Library to assist in that mission.
The event, which was held last fall on Sept. 2 at the Lincoln Heights School, involved digitizing artifacts associated with the school that were provided by alumni, as well as a screening of the documentary “Rosenwald,” by Aviva Kempner. The documentary details how Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute, and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., built 5,400 state-of-the-art schools for African-American children across the South.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, “Attending a Rosenwald School put a student at the vanguard of education for southern African-American children. The architecture of the schools was a tangible statement of the equality of all children, and their programming made them a focal point of community identity and aspirations.”
A talk on the Rosenwald School building program followed the screening, providing national context for this local experience. Alumni speakers also shared stories about their memories of growing up in the Appalachian Mountains.
Several undergraduate and graduate students majoring in history with a concentration in public history worked as volunteers for the event. A couple of the students continued working with Deathridge and her team after the event, entering information gathered on the day of the event into a database.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: https://www.neh.gov
About the Department of History
The Department of History offers a broad curriculum in local, national, regional and world history at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which encourages history majors to develop a comprehensive approach to human problems. The study of history is an essential part of a liberal arts education and offers valuable preparation for many careers, such as law, journalism, public history, public service and business, as well as in teaching and the advanced discipline of history. Learn more at https://history.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.