Alumni of the former Downingtown Industrial and Agricultural School (DIAS) gathered recently to celebrate its legacy of education for African Americans. They also conveyed their experiences into an oral history of the institution. The Philadelphia Tribune reported the gathering.
During the reunion, attendees unveiled a historical marker, honoring the location where African Americans were taught agriculture, mechanical trades, domestic arts, reading, writing, and mathematics starting in 1904. The school closed in 1993, and the property is now home to the Downingtown Campus of Delaware County Community College.
“It warms our hearts that the land is still used for educational purposes,” said Barbara Thomas, a 1974 DIAS graduate. “The unveiling of the marker is a monumental event for us.”
Unveiling of the plaque and the reunion were coordinated by Delaware County Community College and the East Brandywine Township Historical Commission.
The oral histories recorded from the alumni — along with a trove of DIAS historical documents and photos archived at Temple University — will help keep the memory of the school alive, said Carol Sinex Schmidt of the East Brandywine Township Historical Commission.
Read more about the Downingtown Industrial and Agricultural School in The Philadelphia Tribune.