Dozens turn out to help shape future of DeKalb County’s first Black public school

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Pictured: Revonda Cosby, executive director of Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, speaks with stakeholders during the Nov. 14 community engagement session in Lithonia. Photo by Glenn L. Morgan/ocgnews.com

Shaping the future of DeKalb County’s first Black public school

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11.14-Bruce-Street-Event_Arabia-Alliance_AMHAA ED Revonda Cosby
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LITHONIA—Dozens of people attended the Nov. 14 community engagement session, which was held at the site of the historic Bruce Street School ruins, DeKalb County’s first Black public school.

During the three-hour drop-in, stakeholders had a chance to tour the site and participate in activities designed to stimulate ideas on how the site may be preserved for future generations as a historic destination. Mother Nature provided a perfect fall day for the event with sunshine and mild temperatures.

The Bruce Street School, also called the Negro School and the Lithonia Colored School, was built in the late 1930s. The school’s first graduating high school class (around 1943) included three pupils. By 1968, the Bruce Street School was closed and a fire had destroyed much of the structure, leaving the granite part of the structure.

The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance is leading the effort to preserve and revitalize the site and has retained Martin Rickles Studio, an Atlanta-based interdisciplinary design studio.  l Team  Arabia Mountain Heritage Area officials and team members from Martin Rickles were on hand on Sunday to answer questions and meet the community. Those who attended enjoyed lunch, music and had a chance to talk about memories of the school.

Organizers said that a second engagement session to gain public input will be held at the site in December. More details about the next session will be publicized later at ocgnews.com.

For more information about the project, please visit arabiaalliance.org/brucestreet.

Video By Glenn Morgan

One comment

  • S

    November 17, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    To think about local Black history, Atlanta is the first place that is discussed, but when it comes to south DeKalb County, it comes as a surprise to some. ..just like those rocks of the school surprised me.

    In these perilous times where conservative politicians want to get rid of Black and other minority related history,preserving history such as the school is more important than ever.

    Sadly,I was surprised to learn about Black communities living in Stone Mountain,Lithonia and Stonecrest ( Flat Rock). My sister once debated me that no Black communities existed there( Lithonia/ Stonecrest). I just told her just go and do the research ,see and just promised her that she’ll see where I’m coming from.

    Back in the day,I thought that history was boring. As an adult,I’m glad that I redeveloped an interest in it. For an African American woman like me, not learning it means that I’m forgetting who I am, the beauty of my culture, community and truth about my history.

    Reply

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