Dorchester Academy Museum of African-American History in Midway GA Needs Your Help!

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The Dorchester Academy Museum in Midway GA needs your help today!

Dorchester Academy Moore Hall Midway GARecently while traveling in Georgia, we had the chance to visit the Dorchester Academy Museum of African-American History in Midway GA.  They need to raise funds to stabilize and restore their historic campus.

Following the Civil War, there was a great need for education throughout the south.  Moore Hall Interior Dorchester Academy Midway GAIn 1868, the school that would become the Dorchester Academy was started as a primary school and Congregational Church by the AMA. An abolitionist, Eliza Ann Ward, was sent from Massachusetts to open the school in "Goldings Grove" and taught until 1872.  Floyd Snelson was then hired to foster the school.  In 1879, the school was enlarged to provide secondary education to freedman in Liberty County and was then named the Dorchester Academy.  The Academy was both a day school and a boarding school.  In 1934 the entire graduating class was admitted to college, and the school was classified as one of the best schools in the state.  The school grew and prospered until 1940 when Liberty County built a consolidated public school for black youth.

Dr Martin Luther King Room inDorchester Academy GAThe Academy closed and many of the old buildings were torn down in 1945.  The AMA then donated $10 for every $1 toward the remodeling of the brick boys dormitory - the Elizabeth Moore Hall.  The facilities were turned over to the new Dorchester Cooperative Center (DCC).  The Center included the Credit Union (founded in 1938), the Farmers Union, the Liberty County Political Council, and Dorchester Improvement Association.  The programs developed at Dorchester were a model for later community development in the 1960's.  In 1968, the Liberty County Schools were integrated.Original Boy's Dormitory Room Dorchester Academy Midway GA

"In 1961 the Southern Christian Leadership Council in cooperation with the American Missionary Association (AMA) established "Leadership Training Programs and Citizenship Schools" at Dorchester to train grass roots leaders from throughout the south".  Andrew Young headed the project in the formative years and Dr Martin Luther King was deeply involved and often visited.  Leaders from throughout the country taught and trained here and King's biographer contends he planned his 1963 Birmingham campaign while staying here.

Many of the original buildings have been removed over the years, but the original brick boy's dormitory built in 1934 (and named in honor of Miss Elizabeth Moore, the first African-American woman principal) is being restored in the center of the campus and has been listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.Dorchester Academy Museum of African-American History Midway GA This building has been the center of much of the key activity over the years including the time that the Southern Leadership council used the facilities.   The original rooms and furniture used by Dr King are still preserved in the building.

Today, the building is badly in need of restoration and needs your help.  On April 28, 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Dorchester Academy to its 2009 list of the 11 Most Endangered Places in America. "The Academy .... has been an institute for education, community development,and positive political and social change since its founding day" -  Pres Jimmy Carter.  Our Thank You to Don O'Neal for taking the time to show us throughout the property and explain its history.

All donations and help are greatly needed and appreciated - contact:

Don O'Neal
Dorchester Academy Museum of African-American History
PO Box 51, Midway, GA  31320

"In addition to its highly significant role as a school for generations of African-American students, Dorchester played a seminal role in the great social movements of our nation's history." - Richard Moe - National Trust for Historic Preservation

(Note: all above history is a compilation taken from the website, on site displays, National Trust site, and discussions - please let me know if you find any errors/missing information)


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David Henke

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