Washington named His­tory Hero

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

KENT NAR­ROWS — In 1935, the first high school in Queen Anne’s County for African Amer­i­cans was built in Centreville. The build­ing re­mained a high school un­til 1951, which is when Queen Anne’s County High School was built, and be­came an ele­men­tary school un­til 1966. Over the next 50 years, the old school fell into dis­re­pair.

That was un­til Clay­ton Washington, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Ken­nard

Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion, and other grad­u­ates of the old high school be­gan a restora­tion project in 2007. Washington and his team raised $700,000 for phase one of the restora­tion with funds from Queen Anne’s County, the state and mul­ti­ple African Amer­i­can his­tory pro­grams. The group even­tu­ally raised the full funds needed for the restora­tion, which was $2.1 mil­lion.

And on Sat­ur­day, Nov. 12, Queen Anne’s County His­to­rian Mary Mar­garet Rev­ell Good­win read a procla­ma­tion, dur­ing the sec­ond an­nual his­tory sum­mit, from the county com­mis­sion­ers dub­bing Washington the sec­ond win­ner of the His­tory Hero award. The award is pre­sented to an in­di­vid­ual who has made out­stand­ing his­tor­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions to the county and is pre­sented dur­ing the his­tor y sum­mit.

The sum­mit, which con­sisted of 10 panel dis­cus­sions through­out the day at the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press, was started by Good­win

in 2015. The first His­tory Hero Award was pre­sented to Myr­tle Br­us­cup for her work cre­at­ing the county’s his­tory fil­ing sys­tem at both the li­brar y branches.

Now called the Ken­nard High School African Amer­i­can Cul­tural Her­itage Cen­ter, Washington said he hopes the build­ing will be a hub for com­mu­nity pro­grams and a “place to grow our young peo­ple here in this county.” The build­ing will also have an African Amer­i­can his­tory mu­seum, a safe space and re­cre­ation cen­ter for kids to come af­ter school.

“We were blessed with just some good peo­ple that were put in our paths as we started this project,” Washington said.

Washington said the real pur­pose of the build­ing is to go “be­yond be­ing just pretty,” though it has been re­stored won­der­fully. He said the real work is just be­gin­ning in cre­at­ing pro­grams and part­ner­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tions to help com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“We don’t claim ownership even though we do own it,” Washington said af­ter ex­plain­ing the Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion pur­chased the build­ing from the county for $1.

“We now own that build­ing, but I will tell you that it be­longs to all of you, and it be­longs to this county. It’s the African Amer­i­can legacy for us here in the county, but it be­longs to all of us.”

Washington said pro­gram­ing has al­ready been sched­uled. Team­ing up with the county’s Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, the Part­ner­ing for Youth af­ter school pro­gram cur­rently holds classes on Tues­days and Thurs­days. The night of the his­tory sum­mit, Washington said the Ken­nard Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion held its an­nual fundraiser and was ex­cited the build­ing was ren­o­vated in time.

For­mer County Com­mis­sioner Bob Sim­mons, who had been sup­port­ive of the restora­tion project dur­ing his time on the com­mis­sion, thanked Washington for his “con­sis­tent ef­forts for so many years stay­ing be­hind this project.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Ken­nard High School African Amer­i­can Cul­tural Her­itage Cen­ter, visit the as­so­ci­a­tion’s web­site: www.ken­nardalumni.com.

Look for more sto­ries from the his­tory sum­mit in next week’s edi­tion.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

For­mer Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Bob Sim­mons, right, presents Ken­nard Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Clay­ton Washington with a procla­ma­tion dur­ing the 2016 His­tory Sum­mit at the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press on Sat­ur­day, Nov. 12.

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