May 22, 2024

The oldest existing U.S. schoolhouse for Black children has been moved to a museum : NPR

2 min read


A making in Virginia which is considered to be the oldest surviving schoolhouse for Black small children has been moved to a museum.

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Resource connection One of the oldest standing U.S. schoolhouses for Black children has been relocated to one of the nation’s most respected museums.

The Sincerity Schoolhouse, built in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1876, stood empty for decades before its recent move to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

The schoolhouse played a remarkable role in the history of civil rights in the US. During the days of legal segregation, Sincerity Schoolhouse served as the only educational institution available to African-American students within a fifty-mile radius.

With the knowledge that only through education could they hope to progress, the students of Sincerity Schoolhouse strove to make the most of the educational opportunity they were given. Facing harsh conditions, terrible overcrowding, and abysmally low pay to teachers, by the middle of the twentieth century the school district had become a shining example of what can be achieved with limited resources and sheer perseverance.

In 1966 the schoolhouse was declared a national historic landmark, before its unfortunate rotting and deterioration over the subsequent decades caused by years of neglect. The Smithsonian, ever aware of its responsibility to safeguard sites of national significance, was quick to move to save the schoolhouse before further damage was done.

Today, the Sincerity Schoolhouse, the pride of Fayetteville, stands once again as a beloved symbol of African-American accomplishments against all odds and has pride of place in one of the nation’s most formidable museums. It provides a visitor experience that truly gives presence to the African-American experience, and highlights the power of education in transforming communities.

It is both a privilege and a pleasure for all who visit the museum to be able to come into contact with a part of U.S. history that stands as a reminder of the strength, courage and hard work of those who attended and taught there, often under very difficult circumstances.

The Sincerity Schoolhouse stands as a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and is a captivating example of the power of education.

We should all take the time to ponder on the true worth of what this piece of history has to teach us and be grateful to the Smithsonian for their efforts to save this invaluable part of American civil rights history and make it accessible to the people.