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GUEST COLUMN: Values that made our country great

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Joyce Perdue-Smith of Rome is chairwoman of the Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp.

Many of you probably know of the remarkable story of a nearly lost African American site in Cave Spring that was saved by kudzu. That site, the Fairview Colored School, was dug out by hand from underneath a sea of kudzu by alumni in 2010.

The Fairview Colored School campus was a result of the collaborative effort between Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, and Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish CEO of Sears and Roebuck. The partnership resulted in a foundation that seeded over 5,300 schoolhouses across the 15 southern states between 1912 and 1932, with 259 built in Georgia.

The schoolhouses were built to the architectural plans drafted by Tuskegee Institute, and funding was subsidized by the Rosenwald Foundation. The Floyd County Board of Education received funding in the 1920s for three Rosenwald schools — Blossom Hill, West Rome and the Fairview Colored School in Cave Spring. The only remaining campus is the Fairview Colored School on Padlock Mountain in Cave Spring.

Everyone familiar with the Berry Schools in our area knows the history of Miss Martha Berry’s first school, Possum Trot, where she educated poor students. The Rosenwald Schools provided the same opportunity for young African-American students across the South. We are fortunate in Floyd County to have historic examples of both schools.

There is very little tangible evidence in Georgia of recorded African-American history and even fewer authentic African American sites that exist, especially one that is nearly a century old.

Saving this 90-year-old historic African-American site presents an opportunity to invest in a very important part of Georgia’s history about which children and the general public need to know.

The only remaining building is the first-grade building, symbolic of a shared educational experience that was valued by all Americans during the era in which it existed. Instilled within the four walls are the very ideals which all Americans embraced.

Within these walls, little children learned about patriotism, moral character, respect, religious freedom, honesty, resolve and other values dear to our region. These type of values can sustain our country for another 90 years and it is important that young children, especially African-American children, know and are proud of this heritage.

Most importantly, The Fairview Colored School still has a place and purpose to serve the community and children in the 21st century. The re-envisioned campus promises to be an economic and cultural asset for Cave Spring and Floyd County as it becomes a heritage tourism magnet serving the community and schools.

The Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp. wishes to thank all who have helped this project, especially the media —Rome News-Tribune and Nelle Reagan — the cities of Cave Spring and Rome, the Cave Spring Historical Society, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, and the Greater Rome Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

It has been wonderful how the local community has come together to help this project succeed.

A very special thanks is extended to those who supported the Fairview Symposium at Berry College and the 90th Anniversary Gala Dinner. Those sponsoring organizations and individuals due special recognition include Berry College, Ira and Libby Levy, Rome Area Heritage Foundation, Wildlife Club of Cave Spring, Alton Holman Heritage Arts, Inc., Dianna Haney, Lucinda Bunnen, Peggy Allgood, Floyd County Board of Education, Georgia Highlands College Foundation, Inc., Georgia Humanities Council, Georgia Power Co., The Georgia Trust and National Trust for Historic Preservation, David Mitchell, Michael and Linda Weinroth, The Rotary Club of Rome, Walmart and John Ware.

A $240,000 capital campaign is underway to restore the building and surrounding grounds so this important story can be told. Readers may become involved as donors, volunteers, or provide in-kind gifts by calling 706-232-0975 or emailing heritageweekend@yahoo.com.

Working together, this community can save an important story in our history that can continue to educate our youth on the values that made our country great.

Joyce Perdue-Smith of Rome is chairwoman of the Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp.