Jennie Dean was born as a slave in 1848.
During her lifetime, she impacted local African American students by founding the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth.
The former educator’s legacy was remembered in Manassas on Saturday.
A statue of Dean was unveiled at 9601 Wellington Road, according to a release from the City of Manassas. Mayor Hal Parrish, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, U.S. Representative Jennifer Wexton, and donors participated in the ceremony.
Bristow artist and Manassas Museum volunteer Christopher Hill made the statue, which serves as the Manassas Industrial School/Jennie Dean Memorial centerpiece.
Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth was established in 1893. Dean used local donations and those from Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., philanthropists to buy 100 acres and start building it.
Work on Howland Hall – the first building – was finished by September 3, 1894, when Frederick Douglass led the dedication ceremonies.
In addition to academic instruction, such as math and English, the school offered vocational studies, including agriculture, carpentry and sewing.
Fairfax, Fauquier, and Prince William counties bought the land and buildings from the Manassas Industrial School to establish a high school for African-American students in 1937.
After Fairfax and Fauquier counties constructed segregated schools, Prince William County combined Brown Elementary School of Manassas and Regional High School and named it “Regional High and Elementary School”.
A new elementary and high school opened in 1959 and was named after Dean. The facility changed to a middle school when schools in the county became integrated seven years later.
In 1977, Jennie Dean Middle School joined the City of Manassas school division and transitioned to Jennie Dean Elementary School in 1991.
Officials started taking steps in 1984 to construct the memorial, which sits on land that the The City of Manassas Historical Committee and the Manassas Museum obtained from Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS).
In 1995, the memorial opened. However, due to lack of funding, the statue’s construction was put on hold.
The statue and plaza around it were supported by 130 donors and a $350,000 Capital Improvement Project appropriation.
Officials are still collecting funds for the second phase of the memorial project, during which walking paths, signage and an amphitheater will be added.
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