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Booker T. Washington descendant to speak in Charlotte

The great-granddaughter of educator Booker T. Washington will speak in Charlotte during a fundraiser to help restore a school building that served African-Americans in the early 20th century.

Author and educator Robin Washington Banks is set to appear at the Second Annual Newell Rosenwald School Day celebration set for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Varick Renaissance Center in Charlotte.

Tickets for the banquet cost $60. Proceeds will go toward the restoration and preservation of the old Newell school on Robinson Church Road, said Jerry Hollis, president of Silver Star Community Inc., which is hosting the event.

Hollis said he hopes attendees will get to learn more of the history of the Rosenwald Schools Building Program, which built more than 5,300 school houses in North Carolina and 14 other southern states in the 20th century to help educate black youths.

The program is named for Sears executive and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who contributed money for the schools.

Rosenwald was a major donor to the Tuskegee Institute and allowed Booker T. Washington, a former slave and the institute’s first president, to use some of the money to build schools in rural Alabama, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The program then spread through the South.

In Mecklenburg County, 26 of the Rosenwald Schools were built between 1918 and 1929, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. A database from Fisk University has details on 24 of the schools.

Washington Banks is expected to talk about her great-grandfather at the Saturday event in Charlotte. She is the author of the book, “Booker T. Washington: A lesson in Character Building.”

To learn more about the event, call Charles Grier at 704-449-0981 or Tiffany Walker at 704-258-0498.

Bethea: 704-358-6013
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