Historic Schoolhouse Dedicated To Educating Black Children Receives Grant


Group of Women and Children

Supply: Hulton Archive / Getty

Nestled in communities throughout the nation are storied landmarks that present a lens into Black historical past. Amongst these pillars is the Bray Faculty—the nation’s oldest standing schoolhouse for African American kids—which lately received a $5 million preservation grant.

Based in 1760, the varsity—positioned in Williamsburg—served as a studying establishment totally free and enslaved Black youth. Beneath the tutelage of educator Ann Wager, over 400 kids discovered the basics of studying, writing and faith. Though the varsity geared up college students with literacy abilities, its curriculum integrated problematic doctrines by “directing the enslaved to just accept their circumstances as divinely ordained,” the School of William & Mary shared.

The Bray Faculty shuttered following the demise of Wager in 1774. William & Mary acquired the varsity in 1930, offering a hub for its army science division.

As a long time handed, the construction’s historical past light into obscurity. In 2003, retired English professor Terry Meyers unearthed the construction’s forgotten legacy and introduced consideration to its existence. It took 20 years for researchers to verify the 260-year-old constructing on William & Mary’s campus was certainly the Bray Faculty. Final yr the school bought the construction to the Colonial Williamsburg Basis, the nation’s largest out of doors residing museum.

The $5 million endowment—offered by the Andrew W. Mellon Basis—will assist the revitalization of the construction and the event of applications to coach the plenty about its vital historical past.

“The Williamsburg Bray Faculty Undertaking monumentalizes vital small acts of liberation in our nation’s historical past—these of enslaved and free Black kids studying to learn and write at a time and in a spot the place formal education was uncommon and Black potential was suppressed,” Mellon Basis President Elizabeth Alexander shared in a statement. “By restoring the Bray Faculty, we restore our information of the important tales of the Bray Faculty kids, of the households and pals to whom the kids introduced their studying, and of the capacious energy of training. We’re honored to assist this work with the Monuments Undertaking, which goals to raise and have a good time tales like these all through the US.”

The Bray Faculty restoration venture is slated to be accomplished by fall 2024. The endowment is a part of the Mellon Basis’s $250 million commitment to preserving and reimagining historic locations all through the US.


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Historic Schoolhouse Dedicated To Educating Black Children Receives $5M Preservation Grant 
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