The Letter of the Week from Richard Beckwith of Bowie, “Let’s save Carver High School,” was selected by the Times-News editorial board as the best letter of those that appeared during the week of Nov. 17-23. It was published Nov. 21.
Note: Selection of the letter of the week is based on writing competence and the ability of the writer to get his or her point across. It is not based on whether the editorial board agrees with the writer.
Beckwith and our other Letter of the Week writers receive canvas tote bags embossed with the Letter of the Week logo. Here is an edited-for-length version of his letter.
We may lose a pillar in the community — Carver High School.
To understand its importance, we must be aware of its history and impact, specifically on the black community.
The first public school in Cumberland was the Mary Hoye School, with classes in what was known as the colored YMCA on Independence Street. In 1923 a new school was erected on Frederick Street.
In 1941, principal Earle L. Bracey allowed students and faculty to name the school. They chose George Washington Carver.
Educational facilities for black children in surrounding areas was inadequate, so blacks from nearby Maryland and West Virginia sent their children to Carver.
There was no public transportation or school buses for black children, so the black community came together to address this.
Black students who lived nearby came to Cumberland on Sunday and slept on couches and pallets or, where possible, in the bed of a relative or family friend and return home on Friday.
Without this unification and collaboration of the black community, many who took advantage of the education at Carver would have been deprived of it.
In 1955, integration came to Cumberland, and 54 black students were accepted into previously white schools.
In 1956, Judy Leath, Harold Hilton and William Peck became the first black students to graduate from integrated schools in Allegany County. In 1959, Carver was closed and remained unoccupied until 1969, when Allegany Community College renovated and occupied it for eight years.
In 2002, the Allegany County Commissioners transferred the deed to the facility to the Carver Community Center Inc. for $1.
Renovation of the project was never completed, even though a $900,000 grant was received for the purpose.
The condition of the facility is atrocious and declining, sitting abandoned. The neglect and apathy surrounding the upkeep of the facility is self-evident.
Why has it been allowed to remain unoccupied, and how do we account for the work performed and disbursement of the grant?
What can be done about this?