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New book tells of early Black educator

Victor Inge is beginning his third career.

Inge currently serves as director of financial development for the Black Belt area Red Cross and travels a four county area which includes Marengo. The former journalist has now turned author with the completion of his first book, "Up From The Ground" based on the life and times of William J. Edwards, founder of the Snow Hill Institute in Wilcox County.

Inge said it took him three years to complete the book and it has not been an easy task. After the years of research and rewrites, Inge said an offer from a publisher was less than desirable to him, so he pooled his resources to have the book published himself.

Currently the only place to purchase the book in Marengo County is Supreme Wisdom Book Store on Hwy. 80. Inge will make an appearance there on Saturday, December 15 at 10 a.m. for a book signing.

Inge said the story of William Edwards is very relevant for today. W.J. Edwards lived in the 1800’s and was the son of a former slave. He was born poor and crippled and lived in Snow Hill, Alabama with a relative.

Inge noted in the book that Edwards walked to Tuskeege, Alabama to attend Tuskeege Institute and eventually befriended Booker T. Washington and became an example of how education can lift those of humble beginnings to do great things.

While the book is basically a historical record, Inge said he also wanted the story to be entertaining and used as an educational tool for children.

Edwards used the educational base he gained at Tuskeege to return to Wilcox County and found the Snow Hill Institute, asking for assistance from prominent Blacks and eventually gaining donations from heads of corporations and industries around the country.

That’s how many of the Rosenwald Schools were founded," Inge said referring to Julius Rosenwald who was responsible for donating funds to build thousands of white-framed school buildings now known as the Rosenwald Schools.

The schools were built for African Americans and constructed over a 20 year period between 1912 and 1932. The Rosenwald Rural School Building Fund contributed to the creation of more than 5,300 school buildings in 883 counties in 15 southern states including Alabama.

Today only a fraction of the Rosenwald school buildings remain.

In keeping with the spirit of educational gifts, Inge said some of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Snow Hill Center for Cultural Arts and Heritage.

With the distribution for his first book well in hand, Inge said he has already started work on his second, a collection of African folk tales for children which is due out around the first of the year.