Lowndesboro School gets historical marker

Published 9:57 am Friday, April 19, 2024

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The Lowndesboro School, one of the oldest schools for African American children built during Reconstruction that still stands, will be recognized by the Alabama Historical Association with a new historical marker at an unveiling ceremony on April 20. The marker is part of the Association’s History Revealed program to assist local communities in placing historical markers that document underrepresented aspects of Alabama history.

The public is invited to attend the event which begins at 11 a.m. on Lowndesboro School grounds located at 47 Howard Lane East off County Road 29 in Lowndesboro.

The marker unveiling ceremony is being organized by Josephine Bolling McCall, president of The Elmore Bolling Initiative, assisted by Lowndesboro School Alumni Linda G. Bibb and Kenneth Gregory who are serving as co-chairs.

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“My family’s connection to the Lowndesboro School spans generations,” McCall said. “My great-grandparents were among its first students during Reconstruction. Four of my siblings and I attended the school on the day my father was lynched in Lowndesboro in 1947.”

The Lowndesboro School was founded in 1867 by Dr. Mansfield Tyler and Daniel Alexander, formerly enslaved men who built a building that year to serve as both a church and a school for the Black people of Lowndesboro. 

In 1880, Tyler built First Lowndesboro Baptist Church which stands today and in which the school operated until 1883 when the Lowndesboro Colored Education Association erected the extant two-room schoolhouse on their property.  

“We are grateful to the Alabama Historical Association for recognizing the unique value of this school building in Alabama,” McCall said. “It stands for thousands of schools built by formerly enslaved people throughout the South that were allowed to deteriorate due to lack of adequate funding from public school districts or destroyed during waves of white supremacy violence.”

In 2021, The Elmore Bolling Initiative was awarded an African American Civil Rights Program grant of $236,313 to restore and preserve the school. This competitive Historic Preservation Fund program, administered by the National Parks Service, Department of the Interior, preserves sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens. 

“The NPS grant provided a welcome gift to launch our restoration efforts, but more money is needed to complete this ambitious project,” McCall said. “We encourage the public to donate to preserve a concrete reminder of the long history of African Americans striving for education in Lowndes County and throughout the South.” 

Donations can be made at bollinginitiative.org/donate