School was really school with potential back then

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by dustyelbow, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    Times today are remarkably different from the times back then. But lets look at some of the hardships faced. The problems today are too big to be done by one person.

    Ogden Elementary, an early 1900s school for blacks, to be remembered Sunday
    By Katie Evans
    For The Herald

    In this only photo known to exist of Ogden Elementary, the 2-room building sat in the woods north of Alachua. It had a space heater and two outhouses.

    ALACHUA — Sisters Gussie W. Lee and Verdell W. Robinson used to walk three and a half miles to their all-black school in Bland, a small town in the early to mid-1900s eight miles north of Alachua.

    Once they arrived, the conditions were less than desirable: The school was in a 2-room building with a wood heater and two outhouses.

    No food was provided for the students unless they brought their own, and their books were used. The school only provided an education through the sixth grade.

    "They didn't expect that anybody would get through the sixth grade," Lee said.

    Still, students overcame these obstacles and grew to be successful, becoming lawyers, receiving master's degrees and more.

    "It's not where you come from that keeps you down," Lee said.

    On Feb. 12, Bland Community Families, a community organization, will be providing an oral history of the school and the town in a 2:30 p.m. public presentation at the Alachua Branch Public Library.

    "We want them to know there was a school," Lee said. "We want people to remember that Bland and the Ogden school provided our society with productive citizens."

    Bland Community Families. is an organization focused on maintaining and upgrading the Bland community. However, it was originally formed with the intention to reunite community members who had since grown up and moved away.

    "We just wanted to see them under good, pleasant conditions," Lee, the vice president of the Ogden Elementary School historical committee, said, explaining that until then, they had only gathered at funerals. "You can get a family together much easier than you can get a community together."

    They've been researching the history of Bland and Ogden since the establishment of the organization, and less than a year ago decided they wanted to record the oral history of the school — something their consultant, University of Florida professor and Director of the Proctor Oral History Program Julian Pleasants, is glad to see done.

    "We don't have enough oral history from African Americans, and I think this is a neglected area," he said.

    Pleasants helped the organization obtain a $2,000 grant from the Florida Humanities Council. The project has cost the organization more than $4,700, with money being used for transcribing the eight interviews they conducted, time and travel, advertising and facilities, among other things.

    As part of the grant agreement, Bland Community Families has to give three presentations to the public, sharing their research. The Feb. 12 presentation will be their second, with a third scheduled in Gainesville at the end of February.

    The presentation not only will educate people about Bland and Ogden Elementary School but also will feature a discussion on the changes in educational facilities for minorities in America as a result of the Civil Rights Movement

    Further, the presentation will focus on the "Jim Crow" education in Alachua County with the changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement.

    Robinson, the director of the Ogden Elementary School historical committee, explained that by examining the Civil Rights movement, they want to contrast the then with now, as well as providing a more generalized picture of the education blacks received in the early 1900s and showing how Ogden fit into the big picture.

    Lee and Robinson also hope to instill in the public the determination and values that were instilled in them as a result of attending Ogden and living in the Bland community.

    "Our destiny was not determined by what some people thought," Lee said.

    Robinson agrees.

    "There's always a way that things can be done."