The members of the Ultimate Black Belt Test (UBBT) will be making
their 5th annual visit to Greensboro, Alabama, March 25-29, 2009, this
year to restore a historic educational and architectural landmark.
The UBBT will work alongside Hale Empowerment & Revitalization Organization, Inc. (HERO) Housing Resource Center, Project M, The
New Way Network, Robert Pickens, and the community of Greensboro to
rehabilitate the 1915 Emory School in Greensboro, AL.
The historically significant Emory School is one of two remaining
Rosenwald Schools left standing in Hale County. UBBT and New Way
Network members will raise funds to support the project through their
local schools and communities.
Additional funding for the project has been requested through the National Trust for Historic Preservation with Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation Preservation Fund.
The rehabilitation of the Emory School will be the first step in
creating a community meeting place and a space to house the memories
created in the Emory School and the surrounding Rosenwald schools
which are no longer standing.
The current owner, Robert Pickens attended the Emory School with his 7 siblings. His mother (Virginia Allen) and father also attended school there until they left in the 6th grade to pick cotton. Miss Virginia was a member of the first class to attend the Emory School in 1915. There currently are no known class pictures, no pictures of teachers, no class trophies or
memorabilia for the generations of students that attended the school.
The Emory School is an architecturally significant building type and
it is eligible for registry as a National Historic Landmark. The
original building plan was drafted by W.A. Hazel around 1913 while he
was teaching at Tuskegee Institute.
The Emory School is a One Teacher School, Design No. 11-A. The building currently is listed by the US. Department of Interior National Park Service as being in deteriorated condition, with the building having a high degree of integrity, retaining its original design and plan, location, workmanship,
materials and sense of place.
The original cost of the building was $1,060 with the Julius Rosenwald Fund providing $300 of the construction cost. The State of Alabama contributed $200 and the Black Community funding $550. The local white community contributed $10.
The school was the only educational option for African American
students during the time it operated. The school was used until 1960,
when it was abandoned, and the black students were consolidated into
the Sawyerville schools.
The second step of this project is to create a permanent home for the
history of the school. This traveling exhibit may be a graphic design
project or may grow into an oral history project.
Background on Rosenwald Schools
Rosenwald School was the name informally applied to over five thousand
schools, shops, and teachers’ homes in the United States which were
built primarily for the education of African-Americans in the early
The need arose from the chronic underfunding of
public education for African-American children in the South, who were
required to attend segregated schools. Julius Rosenwald, an American
clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and
Company, was the founder of The Rosenwald Fund, through which he
contributed seed money for many of the schools and other philanthropic
causes. To promote collaboration between white and black citizens,
Rosenwald required communities to commit public funds to the schools,
as well as to contribute additional cash donations. Millions of
dollars were raised by African-American rural communities across the
South to fund better education for their children.
The UBBT (www.ultimateblackbelttest.com) is a master-teacher training program for professional martial arts teachers. The UBBT travels to Alabama to work with HERO as a part of a community involvement training curriculum. While in Greensboro the UBBT Team tutors local students, performs educational demonstrations in local schools, and provides funding and labor for building and building restoration projects.
Why we go to Greensboro: (this was written by Tom Callos)
- This is one of the poorest regions in America (known as THE BLACK BELT).
- We go to meet one another and exchange ideas -under the most extraordinary of circumstances. I call this event, The “Anti-Convention” Convention –as I much prefer to DO SOMETHING as I hang out with other martial arts professionals, as opposed to sitting in some hotel or convention center listening to speakers.
- We go to honor the famous architect/teacher, Samuel Mockbee and his work with The Rural Studio; AND, we go to honor the work of the Mockbee inspired activists Pam Dorr and John Bielenberg of Project M (Maine, Messages, and Mockbee).
- We go to practice PROJECT BASED LEADERSHIP TRAINING (PBLT), a concept where martial arts teachers help young students name, organize, and initiate community-based projects as a way to take their martial arts “out of the dojo and into the world” —and to learn, experientially, leadership. This is the national event that serves as the model for 100’s of other events in communities around the world.
- We go to honor two great proponents of non-violent conflict resolution and civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, who both lived and/or worked in this area.
- We go to change a community –as a way to learn to impact and change our own communities.
Here is a short documentary done by Academy Award winning film maker Nancy Walzog on housing activist Pam Dorr.
Would you like to find a way to be involved? We are seeking a little donation money from a LOT of people; make that A LOT OF MARTIAL ARTS PEOPLE, their students, friends, and family members.
We have more than 100 schools participating –which means for just a few dollars a week for the next few months you can help some martial arts masters REALLY PRACTICE mastery —-and you can participate in an award winning, revolutionary, industry-changing event with some of the most important and pro-active teachers/practitioners in the world.
DONATE TO THIS PROJECT Under dedication please write in “UBBT-Balanced Life Skills” Each school involved has been given a $1000.00 goal to reach. Thank you for your support. Please remember we are not looking for super large donations, but rather small donations from many individuals. This would make a great project for our students to take on.