First Black School in Chambers County honored

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

After nearly 110 years, the Mitchell Springs Rosenwald School Alumni group will be unveiling a historical marker at the Mitchell Springs Baptist Church on June 10. 

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST. at 1019 County Road 533 in Lanett. 

The church, which is still in use under the Rev. Clifford Spradley, was first erected as a school in 1916 and operated until 1962. 

Email newsletter signup

“This was the first black school in Chambers County,” said Mitchell Springs School President Lula Harris.

In October 1962, the building was purchased and repurposed as a church, which has been active ever since. 

In 2019, members of the community, led by Harris, worked to establish the landmark with the state historical association. 

“It took us a long time,” Harris said. It was challenging.” 

Harris spent months researching and going through archives to gather the needed documentation. 

Eventually, the state granted the school its historical distinction. In 1912, Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist and president of Sears Roebuck and Company, donated $25,000 to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. 

The remaining amount was used to set up the Rosenwald Foundation, which raised enough funds to build 5,358 African American schools across 15 states in the South.

Mitchell Springs School was among the last that Washington worked on before his death. The land was provided to the county in 1915. The two-room schoolhouse was completed in 1916, along with the well which is still in operation today. 

Finally, the school alumni group received a letter with their official historical designation on March 18, 2021. Through donations and fundraising, the group has now erected a historical marker for the site.

“We are leaving a legacy for our people, children and grandchildren in our community,” Harris said. 

The pastor of Union Chapel United Methodist Church, the Rev. James Gresham, will be the keynote speaker. 

The club members, some of whom are Mitchell Springs School alumni, who helped organize the event are Minnie Holloway, Jimmie Carlisle, Hazel Wood, Dinnie Towles, Christey Whitlow, Reverend Joann Finley, Sharon Holloway and Ruby Towles.

“We want to invite everyone to come out and join us to celebrate the unveiling of the historical marker,” Harris said.