Unsung Heroes Banquet to honor retired educators
by Marie Nesmith
Nov 07, 2013 | 2074 views | 0 0 comments | 163 163 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marian Coleman, curator of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, works on a display for the Unsung Heroes Banquet showing three black schools in Bartow County that operated before integration. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Marian Coleman, curator of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, works on a display for the Unsung Heroes Banquet showing three black schools in Bartow County that operated before integration. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Bearing the theme “Remembering Our Educational Roots,” the 24th annual Unsung Heroes Banquet on Saturday will honor Bartow’s retired educators prior to and following integration.

Presented by Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, the gathering will start at 7 p.m. at the Bartow County Senior Center, 33 Beavers Drive in Cartersville. Along with a buffet-style meal, the program will feature singing, dancing, poetry reading and an address delivered by historian and activist Donald P. Stone from Snow Hill, Ala.

“[It is important to preserve our past] to enlighten our children about how things were compared to how things are now. [At the banquet], we’re planning to exhibit a sample of the connecting history between three schools that were used before integration: Noble Hill, Bartow Elementary and Summer Hill,” said Johnnie Mae Heard, who attended Noble Hill in the 1950s. “But we will also recognize teachers that taught at Adairsville, Emerson, Kingston, Euharlee — [small community schools] like that before we all started going to school at Bartow Elementary, which now is Hamilton Crossing.

“So we’ll be having photos or stories and other things about either the schools or educators. ... [At Noble Hill, the teachers] were just like your parents at home. You well respected them and they really cared about you, just as much it seemed like as the parents you had. They were instrumental in your upbringing and the outcome of that.”

In addition to honoring the retired educators’ accomplishments, Noble Hill’s Curator Marian Coleman is looking forward to documenting additional stories and details to include in Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center’s collection.

Known as the first Rosenwald School in northwest Georgia, Noble Hill was backed by funds from Julius Rosenwald — a philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., who wanted to provide quality education for black children — and the Cassville community. Constructed in 1923, the school stayed in operation until the educational site was consolidated into Bartow Elementary School in 1955.

After sitting vacant for more than 25 years, the building at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville was transformed into its present state with the help of state grants, private donations and fundraisers. Now known as Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, the venue serves as a cultural museum that reveals what life was like for black residents during the early- to mid-1900s.

“We’re going to ... try to get a little history about these schools,” Coleman said, referring to educational sites before integration. “And we wanted to honor the teachers that taught during this time, those that are still here and remember those that have gone on.

“Then, we wanted to [honor] the retired educators that [taught] after integration because we have those too. But the idea is to get as much history on these schools and teachers as we can. So I thought in getting them together, a lot of this history that we do have, they can add to and help us [preserve] the history.”

Tickets for the Unsung Heroes Banquet are $25 or $30 for event admission and Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Foundation membership. Proceeds from the banquet will go toward replacing Noble Hill’s roof.

For more information, call Noble Hill at 770-382-3392.