There's this town called Princeville. It's in Eastern North Carolina, about 8 miles down the road from my hometown of Rocky Mount. It's historic, a beautiful little town founded by formerly enslaved people just after the Civil War. It used to be called Freedom Hill, and it has a claim as the oldest incorporated African American town in this country.
You might have heard of Princeville, because you might have heard about the floods. You see, Princeville is located right on the Tar River. It's always been prone to floods yet hasn't ever really received protection or attention from the state. And in 1999, Hurricane Floyd and a catastrophic thousand-year flood pretty much destroyed the town, creating hundreds of refugees, and destroying most people's homes. In 2016, another devastating flood did the same.
I'll spare y'all all the little historical details, and my usual talk about climate change. What you need to know right now is that Princeville is poor. It's mostly black, and young folks there face problems from all sides. The town's gone bankrupt a couple times, and it's been shrinking for years. Opportunity is hard to come by in good times, and now is most certainly not a good time.
So that's why I'm coming to you all. On April 17th and 18th, for the first time since the 2016 flood, Principal Annette Walker and the rest of the folks at Princeville Elementary School will be sending students on a trip to Washington, D.C. Like it is for many schools across the country, that trip used to be an annual deal for Princeville Elementary, but it was suspended following the floods. There were too few students, and even on a barebones budget, the remaining kids just couldn't afford to go—nor could the school afford to send them.
This year, I want to help make that different. With Principal Walker, we've done everything we can to make the trip affordable for 35 kids. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has been gracious enough to provide (free) VIP tours. We're working on tours of Howard University and the Capitol. But even with all that, between a bus from Princeville to D.C., a night in a hotel, food, and a choice visit or two to places like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the cost per student is still about $100. Lots of parents have pledged to put up the money, even enduring hardship to do so. But some just can't. And I know that with your help, we can make it free for any student who wants to go.
So that's what we're asking for. $5,000 to send 35 students and 5 faculty and chaperones from Princeville Elementary School to Washington, D.C. Breakdown as follows:
April 17-18 Lodging and Bus seat per person:$50 x 40 = $2,000 Food per person: $30 x 40 = $1,200 Museum tix per person: $45 x 40 = $1,800 Total: =$5,000
Of course, that's just our minimum. The more we can raise, the more students and parents can go, and the more they can do. And any leftover funds go to Princeville Elementary, which like any poor rural school could always use a little bit more money. It's not a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but I believe it means a lot for community members to pitch in to help when they can. You can really make a difference.
Some further details. My name is Vann R. Newkirk II and I'm a journalist with The Atlantic magazine. I met Principal Walker through my mother, who's also an educator in the area. All of the funds raised here will be withdrawn for Princeville Elementary School by Principal Walker.