The Gifford Rosenwald School

Sugar and I are on our way from Point A to Point B, and we see a sign that tells us that there is a historical marker coming ahead.

Because we are two crazy kids out on a history mystery, we are compelled to pull over. Ignore the bread maker on the back seat.

Wearing eye-ish makeup and everything. YoursTruly, not Sugar.

Gifford is a wide spot in the road with a blinking yellow light. I would say “flashing” yellow light, but that might imply urgency, and there is nothing urgent happening in this sleepy little place on a Sunday morning. There’s a police car on the side of the road, parked in a spot at just such an angle that you would suspect that you are being surveilled and quite probably being ticketed for being nonlocal. However, the police car was unmanned, and was simply a decoy. There was no donut shop in sight. I would guess it was the only police vehicle in the hamlet, and the community got every ounce of usefulness from the car’s prescence.

25-21

GIFFORD ROSENWALD SCHOOL

Gifford Rosenwald School, sometimes Gifford Colored School, was built here in 1920-21. It was one of 500 rural schools built for African-American students in S.C., funded in part by the Julius Rosenwald Foundation from 1917 to 1932. The first of four Rosenwald Schools in Hampton County, it was a two-room frame building constructed at a cost of $3,225.

(Continued on other side)

(Continued from other side)

Gifford Rosenwald School had two to five teachers for an average of almost 200 students a year in grades 1-9 until it closed in 1958. That year a new school serving Gifford and Luray, built by an equalization program seeking to preserve school segregation, replaced the 1921 school. The old school has been used for church services and Sunday School classes since 1958.

SPONSORED BY THE ARNOLD FIELDS COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT, FAITH TEMPLE DELIVERANCE MINISTRY, AND THE TOWN OF GIFFORD COUNCIL, 2014.

This is the first reference that I have seen to “separate but equal” that wasn’t in a book or on the news. This is powerful stuff. I didn’t know that there were actual schools built to reinforce this notion. It seems odd to me that there was already a school in place for black children, but another one was built, perhaps to a different standard and modern construction, in order to maintain “separate but equal”. That is not to say that the old school didn’t need to be replaced. And now I want to know what the companion white school looked like and where it was.

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