This t-shirt design contest shines light on the first African-American high school in Virginia

The first African American faculty of Christiansburg Industrial Institute.

How many t-shirts do you own? 10? 20? 50? I have dozens and every single one has a story associated with it. I know exactly where I got each shirt, why I bought it and even a little anecdote that corresponds with my acquisition,

T-shirts tell stories and carry messages to influential groups of people. That’s exactly what Chris Sanchez, the project organizer for the Christiansburg Institute in Christiansburg, Montgomery County, Virginia, is hoping to achieve with the launch of “Reimagine our Building,” a t-shirt design contest to raise awareness and money for the Institute’s historic Edgar A. Long Building.

Sanchez is a community organizer working hard to grow Christiansburg Institute’s fundraising efforts, while hoping to energize the broader community and interest in the historic landmark. The contest runs until 11:59 am December 20, 2018. If you’re interested in participating, there are two items that must be included in the design:

1) The Edgar A. Long building must be incorporated into the overall design. Exactly how the building is incorporated into the design or what the building looks like is entirely up to you — explore your imagination as to what the Long building could look like when it’s fully restored!

2) The text “Christiansburg Institute” must also be incorporated into the design, however, the rest is up to you (text font, colors, size, etc)!

Sanchez is hoping to get a glimpse into how Christiansburg Institute fits into the community, and more specifically what the Edgar A. Long Building represents to the local area. For now, it is about having a learning center for ALL. The t-shirt design contest submission packet, available online, provides a brief history of the institute and the value the building has and will provide in years to come:

Booker T. Washington at Christianburg Institute

“The Edgar A. Long building, named after principal Edgar A. Long, was built in 1927 and is one of the last remaining structures from the original 185-acre Christiansburg Institute campus and the only one named after an African-American. In 2001 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building
features 3 full floors (including the basement) with nearly 10,000 square feet of usable space.”

The Christiansburg Institute was founded by former Union Soldier Captain Charles S. Schaeffer. He was employed by the U.S. War Department following the Civil War as a representative of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, later known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. Schaeffer was also a Baptist Preacher with connections within the small community. That support would help him create first school in southwestern Virginia dedicated to educating former slaves. Before the end of the century, Booker T. Washington would visit the school and later serving as an adviser to the school. In 1927, Christiansburg Institute built the Edgar A. Long Building, named for a former teacher. The rectangular brick building served as the first high school in Southwest, Virginia for African-American students until 1966 when the school closed permanently in the wake of desegration.

There are numerous benefits to a t-shirt contest including the possibility that the message lives on long after the awards are presented.

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