In the days of segregation, Tennessee’s Black communities had their own school buildings, which along with churches served as centers of community life. While many of these small-town structures fell into disrepair or were torn down after school districts integrated, some survive and have taken on new life as museums that provide a glimpse into all-black eduction.
The most prominent such school in East Tennessee has to be the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton. Rogersville has its museum in the Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum.
While most of the beautifully restored building comprises the community center, one room makes up the Swift Museum, which is dedicated to Swift Memorial College , an institution of higher learning that lasted from 1883 until 1964. It began as a four-year college, then a two-year junior college, and then Rogersville’s black high school.
The museum contains artifacts from the college as well as the Price School.
The day I was there, two ladies were present who happily answered questions about the museum, the school, and the college. Left is Norma Bowers and right is Martella Brice.
The Museum is open for one hour on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, but the Community Center is open far more often, and staffers will open the Museum for guests.
This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.