Community meeting

AMHAA to Hold Community Meeting Feb. 27 About Preserving DeKalb County’s First Black Public School – On Common Ground News

On Sunday, February 27, from 1 to 4 p.m., community members will come together to shape the future of the remnants of DeKalb County’s first black public school, the Bruce Street School ruins. The event will be held at the offices of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, 3350 Klondike Road, Stonecrest, GA 30038. Free parking is available on site and at the easily accessible trailhead next door (3366 Klondike Road). This event is the third in a series designed to gather community feedback and lead the reactivation of the school site. The event will be led by Martin Rickles Studio, an Atlanta-based interdisciplinary design studio; staff from the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance; and volunteers.

Also known as Lithonia Negro School and Lithonia Colored School, Bruce Street School was built and operated by the black community of Lithonia prior to integration. The first graduating class of high school (circa 1943) consisted of three students. In 1968, when Bruce Street School was closed, there were over a dozen primary and eight secondary classrooms – several outbuildings, now lost, had to be built in order to support the growing number of students. The school building contains a rich history, and now people have the opportunity to determine how this space can once again become an active part of the community. Awareness events for this phase of the project will continue throughout the spring of 2022 and culminate in June.

The purpose of this session is to begin the process of mapping out what community members would like to do on the Bruce Street School site in the future – once the planners understand the needs and community expectations, they will adjust their recommendations for renovating, preserving and otherwise activating the site accordingly. Planning is underway to include a virtual component for those unable to attend in person; more information about the virtual component will be forthcoming.

This project is a collaboration between the City of Lithonia, DeKalb County and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance. Funding was provided by DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson.

Anyone with Bruce Street School-related artifacts – including photos, records, yearbooks and stories for use in potential exhibits – is especially encouraged to join the community engagement sessions.

For more information on the project, visit arabiaalliance.org/brucestreet.

Photo above: Participants at the November 2021 community engagement session discuss the history and significance of Bruce Street School.



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