Colored School project closer to goal

April 03, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

The state Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to $206,000 in matching funds for the Ellicott City Colored School Project, putting supporters a step closer to transforming the abandoned school into a museum and research center on the history of Howard County blacks.

Though the project still requires a final nod from the Senate -- and approval from the House of Delegates -- Friday's vote was a big boost for supporters.

"I'm delirious," said Beulah Buckner, a Columbia resident who has been trying to get the school restored since 1989.

Mrs. Buckner is a member of the Central Maryland chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, which plans to restore the one-room school near Rogers Avenue and Frederick Road.

Last month, she and another member of the genealogical society and four students from Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City testified before a state Senate subcommittee seeking the funds.

The students said their youth and their strong interest in the project helped to win over the seasoned state politicians.

The testimony demonstrated "how involved people in the community" are in the project, said eighth-grader Joanna Seck of Ellicott City.

But before the genealogical society can use any state money that eventually is approved, it must raise matching funds.

The group hopes to raise the money by December through a telethon and through the sale of bricks and steps to be inscribed and installed outside the building.

The Senate's support will help that fund-raising effort, said Sen. Christopher J. McCabe, a 14th District Republican and co-sponsor of the funding bill.

Mr. McCabe warned that, without final approval of the state funds, the genealogical society would have to significantly slow its restoration efforts.

So far, the genealogical group has raised about $11,000 through the brick sale.

The state and county already have donated $14,000 each toward the renovations.

The genealogical society hopes to raise at least $50,000 more through a telethon that it will air May 22 on Howard County's Channel 8, from noon to 4 p.m.

Members of black sororities and fraternities will volunteer their time, and students from the county school system's Black Student Achievement Program will perform during the telethon.

In the meantime, supporters said they are happy with the state Senate's approval.

"It'll give us a good start," said Sarah Upchurch, 13, of Ellicott City.

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