Ashburn Old School, also known as the Ashburn Colored School, is a small wooden building in Ashburn, VA. From 1892 to 1959, it was one of the few places available for black students to get an education in segregated Virginia, teaching all grade levels to sometimes as many as 50 students in a single room.
The building had been sitting in a state of decay for almost 50 years before a group of local students decided to raise money to restore it as a school project. Their work was set back over the weekend when someone spray-painted racist messages and symbols all over the building.
Nazi swastikas and the phrase "white power" were just a few of the messages spray-painted onto the side of the historic building over the weekend.
The local sheriff's department said it was investigating the vandalism.
"The vandalism to the [Ashburn Old School] is reprehensible and will not be tolerated here in Loudoun County," Sheriff Mike Chapman stated in a press release.
In a Facebook post, the students working to restore the building said they would not let the vandalism deter their project.
The students working on the project are all enrolled at the Loudoun School for the Gifted, a private school which purchased the land the Ashburn Old School is built on in order to build a new campus. School founder Deep Sran told the Loudoun Times-Mirror that the old school's presence was a big factor in choosing the site.
“This school is a product of the Civil War reconstruction not succeeding and people coming together to say we need to educate our kids,” Sran told the Times-Mirror. “Now everyone’s forgotten about single race schools. But it is a sign of progress and how far education has come.”
Students have set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for the building's restoration. As of publication, they had currently reached $50,000 of their $100,000 goal.
Local news website LoudounNow reports that a bipartisan group of local politicians is offering $1,000 for any information on the vandalism, and that the local chapter of the NAACP plans to hold a rally at the school this weekend.
“Racism is a vile sin against God and man,” Will Estrada, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, told LoudonNow. “It has no place in our community, or anywhere for that matter.”