Appomattox museum to honor Black history and highlight Carver-Price school

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 7:40 PM EST
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APPOMATTOX, Va. (WDBJ) - In the early 20th century, Rosenwald schools were built across the south to educate Black children because they weren’t allowed to attend the segregated classrooms of the public school system. The National Trust for Historic Preservation says today only 500 out of the 5000 structures remain. Graduates from one Rosenwald school in Appomattox are working to keep its legacy alive.

The memories shared by Carver-Price High School students can never be replaced.

“We was like a big family. You know everybody knew everybody, so we looked out for one another,” said Carver Price Legacy Museum Vice President Darlene Reed.

In 1928, the school was built to serve the Black community during segregation. Reed remembers how it made her feel.

“You had buses that came by your house, and they didn’t pick you up,” explained Reed. “And you had to wonder why the bus didn’t pick you up. You had to get on the next bus.”

The school was led by Mrs. Mozelle Price, with three teachers instructing students, whose ages ranged from kindergarten to high school seniors.

For students who had to travel a long way to get an education, Mrs. Price came up with a solution - something she called Camp Winonah.

“She opened up her house so that students could continue their education,” added Price.

Click here for other stories on Black History Month

One of those students was Everett Berryman Jr. He was 11 years old when Prince Edward County refused government-mandated integration and closed all schools in 1959.

“So, that left all of the students, especially the Black students, without schooling, and we had to just go wherever it was where we could go to continue their education,” said Berryman.

After not attending school for two years, Barryman realized he was falling behind.

“I had a cousin in Maryland, and we were the same age and pride ourselves with keeping up with each other in grade levels and things of that nature. And after two years it really dawned on me, he’s getting ahead of me,” explained Barryman.

Carver-Price grew to 50 students per classroom, but no one was turned away.

“The teachers, the staff, the student body here in Carver Price welcomed 59 of us from Prince Edward,” added Berryman. “This was a heaven for us. And we loved this school.”

Barryman says it’s important to tell these stories during a time when he feels people are erasing history.

“Do you think people’s feelings were not hurt that went through these experiences? You know and someone not going through it doesn’t want to hear about what happened. That’s not even being sympathetic to someone who experienced it,” said Berryman.

Carver-Price did not shut down until 2002. After sitting empty for 21 years, renovations have begun to turn the school into a museum.

“But I want everybody to walk away knowing the impact that this school had on students in this area from early as 1920, because it is part of a Rosenwald school,” said Reed.

The museum is set to open in October 2023.

“Well, we are seeing it come to fruition. So our dream is finally, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel that we going to have the state-of-the-art museum that will tell the story from pre-Civil War to civil rights,” said Carver Price Legacy Museum Ora McCoy.

Click here to donate to the museum.