The Scrabble School Preservation Foundation of Rappahannock has received a $10,000 grant in support of ongoing efforts in sharing history about the county’s Rosenwald Schools, established to educate African-American children in the Jim Crow era.

Virginia Humanities, a Charlottesville nonprofit, recently awarded the grant with unanimous support from its board for a film project under development, “Stories Worth Telling: the Rosenwald Schools in Rappahannock County.”

“The board agreed with staff that this is an important local story with statewide and national resonance, and funding was awarded without any special conditions,” according to the grant award. The board congratulated Scrabble School Preservation Foundation on submitting “by far the best” application it received during the spring 2020 grant cycle, its second largest ever.

Renowned educator, author and advisor to U.S. Presidents, Booker T. Washington, of the Tuskegee Institute, helped build the state-of-the-art schools for African-American students across the country with Sears president and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.

The locally awarded grant will enable Scrabble School Foundation to continue to tell the stories of Rosenwald Schools in Rappahannock and collect oral histories from alumni, according to a release on Tuesday from program director Susanna Spencer.

The project will build on previous work and expand its net beyond Scrabble School to include three other Rosenwald Schools in the county—in Washington, Flint Hill and Amissville.

“This will provide a fuller appreciation for the roles the schools played in the county and in the subsequent integration of the schools in 1968,” Spencer said. “A second aspect of the grant’s purpose is to document the restoration and interpretation of Scrabble School.”

The film project team is comprised of Professor Amy Tillerson-Brown of the African-American Studies program at Mary Baldwin College; Terry Miller, curator of several exhibits that highlight the history of African-American communities including at The Carver Center 4-County Museum; and Metta Bastet, an award-winning filmmaker with PBS-VPM.

To participate in the project, contact Spencer at contact@scrabbleschool.org.

Virginia Humanities, a consistent supporter of Rosenwald School history preservation, requires matching grant funds. To contribute to the effort and support the film project, send a check to SSPF, care of Lillian Aylor; SSPF VP/Treasurer; P.O. Box 356; Sperryville, VA 22740.

More than 380 Rosenwald Schools were built 1917-1932 in Virginia during the period of government-mandated racial separation. A survey released last year by Preservation Virginia found 126 of the schools are still standing with 83 occupied for other use.

The Scrabble School, located just off of Sperryville Pike, closed in 1967 after integration and was nearly forgotten. It reopened in 2009 after extensive renovation and today houses the Rappahannock Senior Center and the Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center.

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