Governor Northam announced on Juneteenth that the Campbell County Training School, along with 19 other African American history sites in the state, would be receiving a historical marker.
The school, which is currently under renovation, is located at 1470 Village Highway in Rustburg. It was the only high school for African American students in Campbell County for much of the 1900s until another was built in the 1950s and area schools were desegregated in 1969.
Current plans are to turn the school’s auditorium into a gathering place for family reunions, conferences and other events. The Campbell County Board of Supervisors placed the school, made up of four buildings on a nine acre lot, in the care of the Campbell County NAACP, which created a committee to oversee the site’s restoration.
Millicent Nash, chairperson of the Campbell County Training School Committee, said she will be elated once the auditorium is fully renovated.
“The importance of it is that we do have a period when our grandparents were educated in this particular building, so we want to keep the legacy alive, and also share this history with the community,” Nash said. “That was so important to us.”
The Campbell County Training school was built with funding from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, which helped pay for roughly 5,000 schools in the South after the Civil War. Two locals, Gabe T. Hunt and Reverend Thomas T. Tweedy, also helped pay for the school. As a training school it sought to give male students building and agricultural skills and female students homemaking skills. Booker T. Washington’s thoughts on education had significant influence on the school’s curriculum.
At one time there were 16 Rosenwald schools in Campbell County. The Campbell County Training school is now the only one left.
Nash said she hopes once the auditorium is finished, the committee will make enough money hosting events in that space to renovate the other school buildings on site.
“This is a project that not only the committee is a part of, but the whole community is a part of,” Nash said.
Nash said she wants to thank the county for its role in making the old school buildings available for renovation, which at one time served as the county school administration buildings.
“Our county was very instrumental in helping preserve the buildings as they are now,” Nash said. “We want to make that known.”
Nash said that along with preserving the Campbell County African American community’s history, she hopes the Campbell County Training School buildings will have wider reaching effects.
“Along with sharing our history, we want to know other histories as well that have been forgotten or not taken into consideration, that have built this great country that we’re living in today,” Nash said. “Everybody’s history is important.”