Keeping history alive: AHS group also looking to future

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 29, 2008

A group of Brookhavenites educated in Mississippi’ssegregationist past have come together to preserve their school’shistory and to help students in future generations.

The Alexander High School Legacy Foundation, a pendingnon-profit organization composed of Alexander High Schoolgraduates, is looking to expand its membership, collect artifactsfrom the school’s past and begin fundraising for the development ofa scholarship program. Alexander, which is now serves junior highstudents, operated from 1937 until the end of segregation in1970.

Sylvia Buie, the foundation’s executive director, said thegroup’s primary goal is to support local students in their academicpursuits in any manner possible.

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“We have organized for the purpose of empowering and supporintglocal students by providing them with scholarships, mentoring andtutoring,” she said

Though still early in the process, the foundation is coming onstrong. It has a large local support base to draw on, with AHSreunions now organized and ongoing in Brookhaven, and hasestablished contact with AHS graduates and students across thecountry and world.

Buie said there are AHS alumni groups operating as close asJackson and as far away as Chicago.

And the Brookhaven group is almost ready to begin itsmission.

Friday afternoon, in only its second meeting, the foundationfinalized its purpose and approved its officers. Initial inquiriesinto fundraising, collecting donations and the development of thescholarship program are being ironed out and will soon befinalized, likely in the next meeting sometime in November.

The foundation was founded by Jesse Buie, who graduated from AHSin 1947 and went on to become the school’s first graduate principaland final head administrator when the school closed in 1970. Thoughhe doesn’t serve as an officer in the group, he is defintely thedriving force.

Buie said AHS graduates once had a strong presence in assistingthe black community’s students in reaching higher levels ofeducation, but many of the originial mentors have passed away.

“Somebody needed to bridge that gap,” he said.

As evidenced by the fact that AHS groups are active in Chicago,there is no shortage of manpower to help contribute to thefoundation’s cause. Buie said 1,692 students graduated from AHSduring its years of operation, and plenty more were shuffled aroundin the school system when the state was desegrated in 1970.

“We ended up with doctors, lawyers, teachers and principalsgalore,” he said.

Buie pointed out that graduating from or even attending AHS isnot a prerequisite for serving in or working with the foundation.The group is also looking for general community support.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the foundation or gather moreinformation about its operations is encouraged to contact it. Thefoundation may be reached by mailing a letter to the Alexander HighSchool Legacy Foundation at P.O. Box 3100, Brookhaven, MS,39602.

Former AHS students may indicate their role in the school’shistory to receive a survey to be filled out and returned for thepurpose of chronicling that student in the developing schoolhistory logs.

“We’re trying to keep Alexander High School alive,” Buie said.”If you don’t record your history, eventually it’s gone.”