Southern Normal School saw many changes over
the last 99 years, and even though the original school closed some years ago, the alumni association works hard to keep the
memory of the school alive.
The Southern Normal Alumni Association has planned a Founder’s Day weekend celebration
to honor the founding of the school 99 years ago. At that time James Dooley Sr. founded the school to prepare young black
students to go on to get a college education.
“Dooley took over a reform school and with the help of
the Reformed Church of America made the facility into one of the best to offer an education to young blacks,” said Gloria
Odom, Founders Day coordinator and a former student there. “Dooley founded one of the most unique schools at a time
when it just wasn’t being done elsewhere.”
At the peak of the enrollment, there were as many as 350
attending school there. Even though the school closed in the late 1990s, it was soon revitalized when Alabama State University
took over the campus and began to use it as one of its satellite school campus. ASU-Southern Normal operates a variety of
programs and recently opened a resource center and computer lab dedicated to small business development.On Saturday, the Founders Day committee will hold a parade
at 11 a.m., beginning downtown behind the Bank of Brewton. The parade will roll through downtown and up Sowell Road to Martin
Luther King Drive and disband at Sportsman Park.
Saturday night the celebration will continue with a black and
white social from 8 p.m. until midnight at Van Vorst Hall on the campus.
“This will be a time to dress up
and have a time to renew old friendships,” Odom said.
Sunday activities begin at 2:30 p.m. at Van Vorst Hall.
The keynote speaker will be Chaplain Colonel Kenneth L. Sampson, an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church of America who
served as both a teacher and coach while at Southern Normal. He is currently the command chaplain for Army Material Command
at Fort Belvoir, Va. Those who are coming from all directions to attend the Founder’s Day will be able to see old friends
and enjoy the time together.
By Lydia Grimes
Brewton Standard Reporter
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