To the members of the Loudoun Douglass High School Alumni Association (LDAA), Douglass High School is more than just a building. It is more than a school. It is more than a community center. To us, Douglass High School is a testament that the most difficult and unjust of challenges can be overcome.
The LDAA is a nonprofit organization, based in Leesburg, VA, founded in 1985 by alumni of Douglass High School, with the mission of providing financial support, via scholarships, to students seeking to further their education by attending college or trade school, who are descendants of those who attended Douglass High School or Loudoun Training School. We raise funds throughout the year by holding different events and fundraisers, and award scholarships to qualified students annually. To-date, we have provided more than $300,000 in scholarships, and we hope to continue this legacy for years to come.
The LDAA Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers. Most of the members of our Executive Board have full-time jobs, yet we spend hours each week volunteering for the organization, because this is our passion and because we know how much the organization means to LDAA members and alumni of Douglass High School. Since its inception, in 1985, the LDAA has always met within the Douglass High School building. We conduct our quarterly Board meetings and Special Meetings at the school, and we have our annual picnic at the pavilion. Once the renovations of Douglass High School have been completed, LDAA would like dedicated space for our Headquarters’; to conduct official business, to hold meetings, and to house documents and other materials. Having dedicated space in the renovated building will not only allow us to continue our mission, but our presence in the building will be a reminder of all the obstacles we overcame to ensure a better future for our community.
LDAA has a unique relationship with Douglass High School, unlike any other organization. Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents purchased the foundation that Douglass High School sits upon, and now the entire county benefits from their efforts. We are descendants of those who were determined to build a high school for their children to receive an accredited formal education — not just a training school for domestic service. Many of our members attended and/or graduated from Douglass High School. LDAA is the living history – through the Alumni and their descendants, we can continue to tell the history.
The community at large will benefit from the presence of LDAA in the renovated building; after all, we bring forth a vital story. The story that began when a group of African American parents were told that they had to acquire land in Loudoun County, so their children would not have to travel to Manassas, VA, or even as far as Washington, DC, to obtain a secondary education. The many sacrifices of time and resources that the parents gave in order to raise the money ($4,000) to purchase the land which was then turned over to the School Board for $1.00. LDAA is more than willing to participate in providing tours and information to visitors of Douglass High School; in fact, and some of our members have already expressed interest in providing informational tours on the school’s history.
Although the existing school was acquired through the blood, sweat, and tears of local African American residents, this is a story that transcends race – all community members, regardless of race or background, can benefit from our story. We want to send a message that transgressions can be overcome, and despite any challenges we face, if we persevere, we will succeed.
In this way, LDAA and the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) share the same mission; like the LCPS, we, too, want to ensure a climate of success for all students. Our focus is, and always has been, on Douglass High School, the alumni, the descendants, and how to ensure opportunities for higher education. LCPS recently issued an apology to the Loudoun County black community for past transgressions and the unfair treatment of black residents. The LCPS acknowledged the apology is the first of several steps to heal the wounds of the past and move forward. The very act of allowing LDAA to have dedicated space would be a giant step towards memorial reclamation to the parents of Douglass students for all of their sacrifices to get the school built, as well as the sacrifices they continued to make until the last graduating class. LDAA, with our strong and deeply rooted presence in the community, could help build the bridge from the past to the future, one in which the narrative is not solely focused on past wrongdoing, but instead on how we as a community can work together to persevere.
Douglass High School is our history and Douglass High School is our legacy. Living alumni bring the history from the Loudoun Training School and Douglass High School who are able to provide first-person narratives. LDAA is living history, and through us, our story will continue to be told.
Loudoun Douglass High School Alumni Association members