Former students fight to save segregation era school building
BULLITT COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - It was Winston Churchill who said, "We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us." A small group of Bullitt County residents believe a certain building definitely shaped them. Those residents are trying to save what they call one of the most important buildings in their county and in many of the residents' lives.
Charles Ayers explained with emotion, "It's history. You got a lot of memories that go with this school. I mean they came in from Lebanon Junction, Mount Washington. Everybody came to this school."
Not everybody went to Bowman Valley School. Bowman valley school was for African-American students only.
Ayer's goes on to say, "My older brothers and sisters went here. My mom even went to school here. All my uncles and aunties went to school here."
If you lived in Bullitt County before 1956 and you were Black, the only school you were allowed to go to was Bowman Valley School.
"We played together with white kids that lived close but then I remember how odd it was them throwing rocks at our school bus. The same kids I played with on the weekends or in the evening. I remember thinking it was odd,"Ayers stated still looking puzzled.
Tammy Ott was never a student at Bowman Valley School and is not African-American, but as she passes the school driving to work she wondered why the school sat without a caretaker 59 years after segregation.
"I just wondered why we left this school here," Ott questioned.
This fact is even more puzzling to Ott and others because in 1985 Mt. Washington historical society led a successful campaign to move and restore Woodsdale School for White students.
Darlene Crowe Ayers, a former Bowman Valley School student, passionately explained, "It needs to be saved. It certainly is part of Bullitt County history. It's not a complete picture unless you have both schools there. If you slice out the African-American education, it looks like we didn't exist."
Not only did African-American students exist but they thrived in the little two room school house that now has a chance at a new future of its own.
Ott explained the dilemma, "The people who own the property have given the school to us. It's going to be torn down if it stays here. So we're in a matter of urgency to get it moved now."
The committee working to save Bowman Valley School House is placing that same urgency to move on the community. They need help now.
"We need a miracle. We're just running out of time," Ott pleaded.
Bowman Valley hopes to be neighbor to Woodsdale School on the plot of land where it sits near the board of education. The land and the up keep of Bullitt County's last African-American School House would not cost tax payers a dime. But the restoration committee must find lots of money to transport the school to its new home.
Ott stressed, "You hear these stories about how people where racist and other things. When people are grown you can't change their mindsets but we can change our children and that's where we need to start is with our kids."
Darlene Ayers added her feelings, "This is part of the heritage of our families. It's very important to us cause we all have to have a start. We all have to come from somewhere."
According to the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, the percentage of African-Americans in Bullitt County is about one percent. Former students would not be able to carry this load alone.
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