In the decades after the abolition of slavery, the nation was little concerned with educating its young black citizens. Amid this oppression, the Bordentown School was a rare symbol of hope. The school—a coed, state-supported black institution founded in 1886—is the subject of A Place Out of Time, which premieres May 24 on PBS stations.
For 70 years, Bordentown turned out talented, empowered graduates. The film documents a reunion on the school’s former campus. “You were always built up,” says one alumna. “You were told, ‘You’re somebody, you’re important, you’re unique.’”
“The story is more than a nostalgia piece,” says director Dave Davidson. “For those who went through the Bordentown School, it was life-changing.”
Ironically, the Supreme Court-decreed end of “separate but equal” education was the deathknell for Bordentown, which closed in 1955. Yet the school leaves a lesson for our time. “The Bordentown model shows us the value of giving kids an environment where learning becomes central to their lives,” says Rutgers-Newark professor Clement Price. “And not just learning, but community becomes central to their lives.”Click here to leave a comment