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In the steps of history: 23rd annual Walk to Dorchester
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Walkers along Lewis Frasier Road cross behind the Dorchester Academy. Photos by Pat Donahue

More than 105 walkers followed in the footsteps of previous generations Saturday morning, June 17.

The 23rd annual Walk to Dorchester, held by the Dorchester Improvement Association, raises money to help with the renovation and maintenance of Dorchester Academy. It was at Dorchester Academy were many African- Americans went to school for generations and where civil rights leader convened to plan and organize.

The funds from the walk, Dr. Clemontine Washington said, are used to maintain the facility and put on programs for the community.

The facility is getting closer to re-opening to the public after being closed for renovations over the last year-and-a-half.

“So we are now up and ready to go again,” Dr. Washington said. “We really appreciate the support of the entire community to maintain this entire building and to provide educational activities for this community.”

Saturday’s walk honored Florence West, grandmother to Bill Austin, former president of the Dorchester Improvement Association. While the walk covered nineand- half miles, replicating the distance many children walked to attend the school there, West lived at the far end of Briar Bay, making her walk more than 10 miles.

“Education was so important to them,” Dr. Washington said. “Most families couldn’t afford to send their children here and those that could they sacrificed everything to make sure their child got an education.”

The school did have accommodations for boarding students — including Washington’s mother and her mother’s two sisters - and Washington said some students came by horse and buggy. They also came from all over Georgia to attend Dorchester.

“But the walk — that is sheer determination,” Washington said. “Because it was important, they endured.”

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