By Sonja Ingram, Preservation Field Services Manager
In 2019, while Preservation Virginia was completing our survey of Rosenwald Schools in Virginia, we met David Rainey. David, who has spent countless hours researching local African American school sites, was gracious enough to take us to visit fourteen schools in Mecklenburg County, nine of which were Rosenwalds.
I also had the honor to meet Lucille Hudson that day. Mrs. Hudson was a Mecklenburg County educator who served as a Supervisor of Elementary Education for 43 years. Mrs. Hudson’s husband James Hudson was also an educator who taught in Mecklenburg County. In a 2008 news article, they shared what they hoped would be their legacy: “We have always been very concerned with being strong, encouraging, contributing citizens. We see the need to mentor children to ‘Reach for the Stars’. Be powerful and work towards your goals. Stay focused. Know not only who you are but WHOSE you are.” Mrs. Hudson was 101 when she died in 2020. Her obituary reads:
“Mrs. Hudson had a passion for the fine arts and was always busy in many productive activities including writing poems, short stories and historical documents. These experiences gave her many opportunities to be a mentor and touch lives through word and deed. A fixture in the
community, Deaconess Hudson’s activities extended into many areas of social and mission work. She served as president of the Bluestone Harmony Convention’s Women’s Auxiliary and Sunday School committees, chairwoman of the Heritage Committee and was a member of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention of America, AARP, Mecklenburg Retired Teachers Association, NAACP, the Lake County Area on Aging and many other organizations. She was instrumental in coordinating the annual Black History Month display that focused on African American education and leadership in the county. Deaconess Hudson was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Carnation Chapter # 171 Order of the Eastern Star of Virginia, P.H.A. where she was Past Worthy Matron and Treasurer. She remained active until her health declined. She lived by her daily word: ‘Hang in there, God’s got everything under control.’“
Preservation Virginia’s Rosenwald Schools program was started in 2014 as a way to work closely with organizations and individuals across Virginia to assist in preserving Rosenwald Schools. One component of the program was locating all Rosenwald Schools in Virginia, and ascertaining their conditions. The survey found that of the 380 Rosenwald Schools and auxiliary buildings built in Virginia, 33% are still standing and 67% have been demolished Key findings from the survey and a map of the schools can be found here:
We continue to work with individuals and organizations across Virginia to preserve early African American schools. On February 18th, 2021, join us for a webinar to hear updates on Rosenwald Schools in Virginia and learn how you can become involved in preserving these important historic places. For more information and to register for the upcoming webinar, click here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Y4JSGWi1SCOdrJHO02d1fA