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Join the Darwin Dash on Memorial Day to preserve Cookeville’s Historic West End

Cookeville’s West End Connection will hold its first Darwin Dash on Memorial Day.

The race will raise funds for West End preservation including the records and memories of the Darwin School, the only African American school during segregated education in Cookeville. West End Connection’s Lori Strode said it’s important to preserve Darwin’s history.

“I feel like if we didn’t who would because it would just be lost to us forever,” Strode said. “If we didn’t bring attention to the fact that that was the primary sole learning institution for our parents.”

Strode said the school, which burned down in 1963, served African American students from White County, Celina, Overton County and other surrounding counties.

Strode said the school also served as a spot for social gatherings in the West End community. She said it is important to act quickly gathering mementos and memories because the remaining students are in their seventies.

“We couldn’t locate any floor plans to recreate what it might have looked like,” Strode said. “We asked remaining students to describe what it looked like. But that’s hard.”

Strode said that means they have no pictures or records of the building to work from in representations or reproduction. She said she has been able to find other historical records.

“I was able to get school records back to the early 1900s from the Board of Education,” Stroud said.

Stroud went with another teacher and made copies of class rolls and teaching plans.

“And those are treasures,” Stroud said. “And we want to preserve as much of that as we can for future generations.”

The Darwin Day Dash 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run will be held Monday, May 30, 2022 @ 8:00 am – 10:00 am at West End Park on West End Street in Cookeville.

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