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Dorchester takes visitors back in time

Historic site promotes culture with food, exhibits

POSTED: September 21, 2009 9:32 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Ollie Howard, 89. gives the prayer as the Day at Old Dorchester starts.

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On Saturday, more than 50 people gathered on the front lawn of the Historic Dorchester Academy in Midway to partake in “A Day at Old Dorchester.”
The annual event was organized by the academy’s board of directors, several of whom said the gathering promotes learning and historical pride among the area’s youth.  
“Every year, we open the doors to the academy to the public so that we can get the younger generation to come out and actually experience those yester years, and so that they can see what the older generation has accomplished,” board member Deborah Dawson said.
Free of charge, patrons were given history lessons, which came in the form of singing, dancing, story-telling, artifacts and exhibits.
“We have different foods from that time. We have a homemade canning, old-fashion ice-cream and a scrapbook,” Dawson said.
Everything on display was unique in the 1920s and ’40s, Dawson said, when black people in the county had to walk nearly seven miles to attend class.
Alice Travis, 83, said she remembers it well.

“The Dorchester Academy was the only school in the area where African-Americans could attend junior high and high school,” said Travis, a Dorchester graduate. “Things were very different during that time and there was a lot of emphasis put on education.”
Dorothy Lewis said she, too, values education and that is why she decided to bring her 5-year-old granddaughter to the event.
“I wanted her to learn the culture and history of this building,” she said. “This [event] brings back the culture that kids today don’t know a lot about.  More parents should bring their children to see this place, so that they can understand where they came from.”

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