Thomas Hunter marker to be unveiled at Founder’s Day

- Posted on Jan 30, 2019 - 02:35 PM

The centerpiece of Monday’s sixth annual Founder’s Day program at Thomas Hunter Middle School will be the unveiling of a new historical marker celebrating Thomas Hunter School’s origin as a Rosenwald school.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. in front of the school, with an unveiling/dedication ceremony for the sign. Last fall, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources approved 10 new historical markers statewide, including one for Thomas Hunter School.

According to the DHR website, the text of the sign will read as follows:

Thomas Hunter (Rosenwald) School

African Americans formed the Mathews Educational League in 1923 and raised $9,900 to build a four-room school here in 1926-1927. Donations came mainly from the black community, with additional contributions from white residents, the county school board, and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. This fund, established by the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Co., and inspired by the work of Booker T. Washington, helped build more than 5,000 schools and supporting structures for black students between 1917 and 1932. Named for Thomas Hunter, a former slave, this school was accredited during the 1939-1940 session and moved into a new brick building here in 1953. County schools were desegregated in 1969.

Monday’s program will begin with THMS principal Laurel Byrd welcoming the crowd. After that, the Rev. Desmond Smith, associate minister of Emmaus Baptist Church, North, will deliver a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication. Members of the committee that raised the money for the highway marker will then unveil the sign.

At this point, the program will move into the school’s J. Murray Brooks Auditorium, where Patrick and Carmaleta Billups will perform a song. Descendants of the school’s namesake, as well as graduates of Thomas Hunter School will be recognized. A state representative will explain the process behind the historic marker designation. The program will conclude with light refreshments.

The school’s annual Book Fair also begins Monday evening (see related story).