10/23/15 Sellars-Gunn center to get historical markers
Schools were built for blacks during segregation with grants from Julius Rosenwald
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 10/23/15
Reprinted with permission.
Carolyn Jordan wants people to remember her school.
“It’s important for blacks because I don’t know how many of them know that J.F. Gunn came about because of Booker T. Washington and Rosenwald and their belief that black kids should be educated,” Jordan said Thursday.
She is one of the people applying to place a pair of historic markers at what is now Sellars-Gunn Education Center at Apple and Rosenwald streets.
At the corner, she wants to place a marker commemorating the Alamance Training School built in 1928, and Jordan Sellars Elementary built in 1930.
The second marker, on Rosenwald Street, will commemorate J.F. Gunn Elementary School, built in 1942, and Jordan Sellars High School, built in 1954.
Jordan was a student at those schools from 1954 to 1966, when she graduated with a class of 99. Her mother, Julia Jordan, was a teacher. She remembers 500 to 600 students on the two school campuses serving black children, mostly from Burlington, during segregation.
“It was the one place that black people could go and get educated,” Jordan said.
The training school was a Rosenwald school, meaning it was in partly paid for with a grant from Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist and president of Sears Roebuck and Co.
“He and Booker T. Washington wanted to start schools in the South for black kids,” Jordan said. “He gave grants, and they were to be met by the parents of these children and the city.”
The training school eventually burned, according to the text of the proposed monument.
Jordan Sellars, also a Rosenwald school, started out as the elementary school in 1930, but the elementary grades moved into the training school seven years later, and Jordan Sellars became the high school.
J.F. Gunn was built in 1942 and named for its principal. It served all grades until 1950, when the elementary and high schools were separated. Both closed in 1970 with desegregation.