Historian to speak at Pawleys Island fundraiser

The Pawleys Island Child Development Center stands in the footprints of the Parkersville Rosenwald School, literally and figuratively.

Scores of rural African-American children were taught at the Parkersville school, including Norman Reid, a director for the child center.

Reid, who took his seventh- and eighth-grade classes at the school, said the center is now filling a need for the community similar to what the school did for about 40 years until the 1960s.

The school stood from 1921 until the 1960s and gave rural black children a place to go when there were very few other viable options, and Reid said the center gives working parents a place for their children who are too young for school.

"The children back then didn't have any place to go," Reid said. "Now these younger children still don't have any other place to go."

On Tuesday, as part of a Black History Month fundraiser for the center, historian Lee Brockington will speak on the history of the Parkersville Rosenwald School and its impact on the community.

Rosenwald schools were started in the early 20th century by Julius Rosenwald as a way to improve public education for African Americans in the South. There are records of around 500 Rosenwald schools in the state, including two in Georgetown County, the Rosenwald Andrews and Parkersville schools, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In South Carolina, many of the schools fell into disrepair or were torn down after 1951 as a result of the statewide effort to build new schools for African Americans that were physically and technologically the same as the schools for white students.

There are now national and statewide efforts to preserve any standing Rosenwald schools and increase awareness about their history.

There only are about 35 Rosenwald schools in South Carolina left standing, said Brad Sauls, the supervisor for registration, grants and outreach for the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.

"Many were altered for new purposes," Sauls said. "Sometimes they still have their historic form, and other times they're hiding in plain view ... some are still used as community centers."

But the Parkersville school was torn down sometime in 1960, said Brockington.

Reid, who has lived in the Parkersville area for many years, said he does not remember exactly when the school was torn down but said the idea for the center came sometime after.

With statewide budget cuts, the center has fallen on very tough times, Reid said.

"We're no longer getting too much benefit from the state or the county," he said. "We're licensed for 60 children, but we're down to about 20 now because we just can't afford kids that need to come."

Brockington said her speech on the history of the site will hopefully raise money to provide scholarships so families can continue to make 323 Parkersville Road a part of their lives.