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“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
-George Washington Carver

 

OUR MISSION

On behalf of the South Georgia Normal & Industrial Institute Inc. (SGNII),    I want to thank you for your interest in this very exciting and historic preservation initiative, restoring the Kinlaw Rosenwald School in Camden County, Georgia. 

In 1896, the African American community of Kinlaw purchased an acre of land and built a one-room schoolhouse for the children of the Kinlaw community. From those humble beginnings, members of the community learned about an opportunity for a better school through a grant provided by philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald. Through the grant and community

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support, a three-room schoolhouse was built in 1921. The school served children from elementary grades through the seventh grade! While there were three Rosenwald Schools in Camden County, the Kinlaw Rosenwald School, while in need of dire restoration, is the only one that exists today in its original location and structure. 

The SGNII has taken on the opportunity to restore this vital part of our community’s history. Maintaining the architectural integrity of the building is vitally important to SGNII. Due to the size of the school, we envision restoring this historic building into a community facility that can be used as both a historic look at Georgia as well as a community center for children and families.

We need your help to make this historic restoration a reality. Community support is vital in preserving this great part of Georgia history. There are many ways that you can support this initiative and no support is too small or large! We are currently seeking monetary donations, donations of services, supplies and materials, use of equipment, and of course, continued well wishes and prayers! 

This local organization, South Georgia Normal & Industrial Inc. is a 501c (3) organization, so your donation will be tax deductible. We look forward to working with you as we bring this historical school back to promise and glory!  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 912-674-1820. Donations should be made out to South Georgia Normal and Industrial Institute or SGNII and mailed to P.O. Box 465 Kingsland, Georgia 31548. Thank you for your support!

 

Respectfully,

 

Deborah Milstead

President, SGNII

 

HISTORY

Construction

Kinlaw Rosenwald School pictures 1-8-20
Kinlaw Rosenwald School pictures 1-8-20
Kinlaw Rosenwald School pictures 1-8-20

From the onset of slavery in America and beyond, the desire to learn has always been an innate desire of African Americans. Education was banned for most slaves, and others learned to read secretly by slave owners or from other slaves that learned from other sources. Education among African Americans post slavery was slow and mediocre at best. In the south, African American students were taught in churches, or in makeshift shacks and one room schools.  


In 1920, the African American community of Kinlaw, Georgia longed for a school in which to further educate the children of the community. Kinlaw is located in Camden County, Georgia which is a rural community in the southeast portion of the state. Kinlaw was a proud community in 1920 that had its own general store, post office and churches. The African American citizens of Kinlaw recognized the importance of education and held school for its children in a one room building and in homes or churches. As the community grew, the citizens longed for a more formal school that would properly educate the youth of the community. 
 

Supervisor of black schools, Matilda Harris, informed the citizens of Kinlaw about the schools that a famous African American educator, Booker T. Washington were building across the south for black children. These schools were to be built with contributions from the community and a matching grant from Chicago philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald. The citizens of Kinlaw wanted the new school for their children.
 

The hardworking African American families of Kinlaw raised $909.00 towards their new school. The white residents of Camden County raised $150.00 toward the new school. There was a public contribution of $800.00 and Mr. Rosenwald donated the remaining funds of $1,000. The school was designed and constructed for $2,859.00 and the first class of the Kinlaw School began in the 1921-22 school year.  During the course of a few years, two additional Rosenwald Schools were built in Camden County.

 

 

Education

Kinlaw Rosenwald School pictures 1-8-20

Kinlaw Rosenwald School became the starting point for many African American educators in Camden County including founding educators Matilda Harris and Mamie Lou Gross, who both have elementary schools named in their honor.  These two Camden County Schools are successful schools still actively educating the children of Camden County, Georgia today. 

Generations of students were educated at the Kinlaw Rosenwald School and the school also served as a community center for the Kinlaw community. The school contained a cafeteria, a large gathering room and a smaller front classroom. 

Preservation and Updates

This building, the Kinlaw Rosenwald School still stands today. It is surrounded by acres of pine trees and is settled in a field of oak trees. The school is a bright red structure with a tin roof and sits high on its original brick foundation. The school was built with the finest of pine and has withstood decades of hurricanes, tropical storms, and blazing heat. 

 

Once the schools in Camden County integrated, there was not a need to hold classes in the Kinlaw school site. The building began to be used for community events such as a distributing site for summer free lunch programs, summer youth programs, family reunions and community sporting events.

Over time the elements and time began to take their toll on the original schoolhouse building and the grounds and original ball field became overgrown with weeds and vines. Over time, there were attempts by developers to purchase the original property and surrounding timberland and tear down the school.  A group of Camden residents, many of whom were the descendants of original Kinlaw students realized that something must be done to preserve and protect this historic treasure. Southeast Normal and Industrial Inc. was formed to restore the building and grounds to their original condition and preserve the building and grounds for future generations. The hope is to gain protection for the site as part of the National Historic Registry. 

 

STORIES AND SCENES FROM KINLAW

Testimony of Mr. Carl Waye, 92 Years Old

 

Mr. Carl, who is now 92 years old, is currently the oldest living member in our Kinlaw Community. He has some fond memories of Kinlaw Rosenwald School. He began his education at Rosenwald in 1933 at the age of 6. He attended this community school from 1st grade through 7th grade. He said that Rosenwald was a year-round school; no summer breaks. The school day started at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m. During these years at Rosenwald, Mr. Carl learned to read and write and develop social skills. He recalls recess time beginning at 12:00 and ending 12:30. During this time, he tried his luck at playing football on the grounds of the school. He remembers Ms. Daisy Waye and Ms. Francis Harris; who were his classroom teachers. Both teachers tried hard to keep Carl on the “right track”. He talked about his struggles with education but was always encouraged to keep trying and never give up.

The memory of laughter at Kinlaw Rosenwald

Uncle Carl laughed as he remembered how many times he was spanked. He thought he never did anything wrong; but yet; he was still was spanked. One day, as he saw Ms. Harris approaching him, he held up his fist! He was ready to punch her. He remembered taking a note home to his Mother that Ms. Harris had given to him. He never knew what was written on the letter; but he later found out that it must have had something to do with him lifting his fist to Ms. Harris.

After Kinlaw Rosenwald

After completing 7th grade at Kinlaw Rosenwald, Mr. Carl remembers receiving his report card stating that he had met the requirements and could now further his education at another historic school in St. Marys which included grades 8-12th.

Although Uncle Carl, could not remember the names of all the teachers at Kinlaw Rosenwald, he praised all that helped him, his siblings, and community children with their education. He is now filled with joy knowing that this historic site is being preserved. He is patiently watching as our community joins together to work toward keeping history visible in Kinlaw.

 

As told to Mrs. Betty Alderman

 

DONATE

Southeast Georgia Normal and Industrial Inc. is a 501c3 with a mission to preserve and protect the Kinlaw Rosenwald School and have it added to the National Historic Registry. While our volunteers have donated hundreds of hours to clear the property and begin the restoration, we need your help to preserve this important piece of African American history.

Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to:

South Georgia Normal and Industrial Inc.

Attn: Connie Foster

P.O. Box 465

Kingsland, GA 31548

 

Paypal Online Donation

 

CONTACT

South Georgia Normal and Industrial Inc.

P.O. Box 465

Kingsland, GA 31548

 

kinlawrosenwald@gmail.com

Contact Us

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