Posted: Saturday, August 11th 2012 at 1:34pm
Back to School rally teaches Beulah Rucker history
By Jerry Gunn Staff
GAINESVILLE - Gainesville and Hall County students picked up book bags and school supplies, ate barbecue, even got free cell phones at the Back to School Rally 2012 held at the Beulah Rucker Museum on Athens Highway Saturday.
According to Beulah Rucker's grand-son and museum director Rojene Bailey, they also learned she was an education pioneer during the early 1900's.
“If you can imagine being a young black female in 1914 saying, I think I want to start a school, that would have been crazy for any woman but that was her dream,” Bailey said. “She started the school, it was very, very successful and it ran from 1914 all the way up until 1958.”
That year it was consolidated into the Gainesville School System. Bailey attended his grandmother’s school and then went to Fair Street High School.
Thousands of students attended the Beulah Rucker School during its 44 years; Bailey said he could not find exact numbers.
“We’ve been looking through papers but all we can come up with is thousands of people,” Bailey added. “Not only did she educate African Americans but anybody who wanted an education during that time came to school here.”
Her school taught industrial arts to older students and following the Korean War she became the first in the state to start a veteran’s school.
“When they came back they were not educated so she started a veteran’s school, a night school,” Bailey said. “These guys worked during the day and came to school at night and earned their GED. Some went on to college to become more successful citizens.”
Valentine Tate was taught by Beulah Rucker in the 1950’s. She brought her great grandson Pete Borders to the Back to School rally. He is starting the first grade this year and came for school supplies.
“She was a good teacher,” Tate recalled. “She taught you the right things and you had to follow her leadership. You had to do things right, you had to get your lessons.”
Beulah Rucker’s grave site is on the premises, marked by her memorial bust. She died in 1963. In 2011 she was named to the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame.
“We just want people to come out and just really see and feel this rich history,” Bailey said. “On these premises was the school, workshops and class room buildings. You come here and you get the feel of all of that.”
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