During our last seminar, we had the honor of visiting the George Washington Carver High School. George Washington Carver High School was an African American High School during segregation for four counties. After segregation, the school was turned into a vocational center. Now, the school has become a special project of the community with the Culpeper Extension Office leading the project. The school is getting new life with research and demonstration plots for horticulture, a large commercial kitchen being built, community groups building offices, and the Extension Office moving to the location. I enjoyed my time getting to hear about the projects going on. It was refreshing to see how involved the community was and different groups of people getting involved including a Hispanic church.
To my surprise this morning, I opened my Cooperative Living to find an article about this school. I really enjoyed getting to talk to the alumni who met with us and hearing about their time at the school. Some of them had as much as a two hour drive to get to the school. They talked about unreliable buses and less then ideal situations. They talked about children moving in with other families to be closer to the school. They shared how they didn’t have a football field and had to drive long way to play or practice in addition to long drives home. To be honest the idea of separate, but equal wasn’t very equal in real life. However, the alumni shared how they didn’t want the place to be forgotten or what happened there. Youth got an education that before was probably not an option to their parents! You can tell that they had lots of good times and that the community strongly supported George Washington Carver High School.
The cord that stuck with me from my visit at George Washing Carver High School was the struggle for an education! If you know anything about George Washington Carver then you know he struggled, but succeed in getting his education. Coming from the mountains, I am very aware of how blessed I have been to get my education. My success is the product of the previous generations struggles. Only one of my grandparents had a high school education with my mother being first generation high school and both my parents being first generation college. I often think about the different generations in my family and how their struggle has led up to me having the opportunities in my life. My grandmother who is 89 has only a 4th Grade education and was the oldest girl in her family. She often had to stay home and help with the younger children. When she did attend school, she had to take a canoe across a creek. My grandmother actually loves to read and one of the things you will find beside her reading a book is a dictionary. Any word she doesn’t know, she will look up. When I was younger she would share books with me and I found it to be great fun. As I got older, I out grew the books she would share with me. Over time, I have noticed that her reading level has increased. As an adult, I realized that she has essentially been teaching herself all these years! My grandmother never had chance to have a career like me. When she worked she was a maid or worked doing laundry. My grandmother is extremely talented and she is an amazing seamstress and carpenter. I am very proud of my grandmother and how hard she worked to improve herself. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of the younger generation takes education for granted. I personally think the work that George Washington Carver High School Alumni is doing is important to remind us not to take education for granted and where we have come from as each generation seeks to improve the lives of the next.
Picture 1: Cooperative Living’s article on George Washington Carver High School.
Picture 2: Sarah Jane Mullins, my grandmother
Picture 3: Myself, Amy Byington