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Waynesboro Heritage Foundation exhibit showcases 100 years of Rosenwald School

Rebecca Barnabi
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A community collaboration between the Waynesboro Heritage Foundation, the Waynesboro Black History Museum, Waynesboro Public Library and other community members has led to an exhibit on the history of Rosenwald School.

On display from Friday, February 23 through October 2024, to mark the 100th anniversary of Waynesboro Rosenwald School opening on October 13, the exhibit at Waynesboro Heritage Foundation highlights the school’s history and Black history in Waynesboro.

“We knew the 100th anniversary was coming,” said Jeremy Hopkins, Waynesboro Heritage Foundation curator of the collaboration.

He reached out to Estella Randalph at the Waynesboro Black History Museum, which is in the basement of the former Rosenwald School, now called the Rosenwald Community Center.

“We have been working side by side on pulling it together,” Hopkins said.

The city-wide collaboration also included Waynesboro Public Library Director Susan Versen, who will begin gathering oral histories of Rosenwald alumni on Saturday at the exhibit’s opening reception from 2 to 5 p.m.

“I really wanted to amplify Black voices in this area and hear their voices,” Hopkins said of the exhibit’s focus.

A Rosenwald alumni member will provide comments and light refreshments will be served.

Rosenwald alumni are encouraged to provide their oral history during the reception to be recorded and made part of the exhibit. Anyone interested in providing an oral history may also leave contact information for Versen.

“I’m hoping that people will take us up on that and we can increase the stories being told,” Hopkins said.

In 1913, Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish American businessman concerned about Blacks in America and civil rights, began funding the construction of more than 5,000 schools and shops in the southern United States. Waynesboro’s Rosenwald School was built in 1924 at 413 Port Republic Road.

Black students who attended Rosenwald began integration into Waynesboro Schools in 1965 to 1966, and attended Kate Collins Middle and Waynesboro High schools.

Now called the Rosenwald Community Center, the building houses the Waynesboro Black History Museum and the city of Waynesboro’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Waynesboro Heritage Foundation is at 420 W. Main Street, the corner of Main Street and Wayne Avenue in downtown Waynesboro, and is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.