Young Men United members are seeking to safeguard what remains of Bernard School.
“We, the people of the African American community, have come together to be here tonight to discuss the future of the Bernard School property,” said Donald Crisp, president of Young Men United, to members of the McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “It has a great significance to the African American community. Therefore, we don’t want it torn down or destroyed for any reason. It is one of the last things that we have that relates to our history and our roots.”
The school was removed years ago. Its gymnasium is all that remains.
Crisp said the gym holds fond memories for him and others.
“When I was a young kid, I could remember coach Charles Dalton. He would come and open the gym up and he’d open the swimming pool up for us,” said Crisp. “Me and all the neighborhood kids would look forward to that so bad that we would run down to the Dairy Queen on Beersheba Street and wait for him.”
Dalton, a teacher and coach, was inducted into the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame in December 2018. His coaching career spanned almost four decades and included Bernard School, Southside Elementary, Warren County Middle School and Warren County Senior High.
“He had a little red Volkswagen,” said Crisp. “When he came across the Beersheba Street bridge, we’d get behind that car and we’d run all the way back up to the gym. He’d open that gym for us, for the kids. We would really like to get a chance to get that property.”
The city’s Building and Grounds Committee has tentatively set a meeting for March 26 at 6 p.m. to consider the request.