June 23, 2013

Local leaders gather to pay homage to site

The Express-Star

VERDEN — Chickasha community leaders gathered to attend Loretta Y. Jackson African-American Historical Society’s Education Visionaries’ Walk of Fame on Friday morning at the Verden Separate One Room School site.

The Verden Separate One Room School is located at 315 E. Ada Sipuel Avenue and is the last remaining of seven separate schools in Grady County.

The event, organized to dedicate benches and receptacles outside of the historical site for community and tourists, featured Loretta Y. Jackson, President and Founder, Bruce Fisher, Afrisa W. Gardner, Pastor Lewis A. Gurley, Allen Blaylock and John Jernigan, keynote speaker and Chickasha City Council member.

Speakers emphasized the purpose and value of education, while highlighting the significance of the school’s role in African-American history

“One thing that has always impressed me about Oklahoma is all of the ethnic groups and all of the religious groups who have settled in this great place have all worked together to make this a great state,” Jernigan said. “And the African-American’s were definitely one of the major groups to do this.”

When Loretta Y. Jackson’s granddaughter Afrisa W. Gardner took the podium, she educated the crowd on the history of her family and the Verden Separate One Room School.

“More than 100 years ago a lone African-American farmer and a few farming parents had a vision: to educate children for a better life,” Gardner said. “So the farmer built a one-room school with his own two hands and the parents made sure their children attended. This school was a room of vision, and today this school remains standing as a reminder and an example of how important education was then and now.”

The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting of donated benches and receptacles. Donors included: First National Bank & Trust, Mosley Agency, The Givens Family, Alpha Kappa alpha Soririty, Inc., Robert & Savannah McKinney Family, Crystal & Sylvester Givens, Robert L. & Dr. Nancy Osborn, Allen & Debra Blaylock, Rolla J. Lee-Bentley, Harold W. & Loretta Y. Jackson, Chickasha Bank & Trust, SNB of Chickasha, Midfirst Bank of Chickasha and Charles Allen Ford.

Attendees were also invited to tour the one-room school, equipped with academic antiques.