The Inaugural Bruce Street School Brunch Gala In Photos

The Bruce Street School Brunch Gala sold 75 tickets and raised nearly $7,500 for the historic schoolhouse’s revitalization. 

Preservation never looked so good! On the morning of February 17, visitors packed the halls of Lithonia‘s East DeKalb at Bruce Street Senior Center holding bubbling champagne, eating delicious hors d’oeuvres and admiring a historic pop-up exhibit about the Bruce Street School. This was the opening of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance’s Inaugural Bruce Street School Brunch Gala, a fancy brunch event to celebrate and raise money to preserve and revitalize the historic schoolhouse ruins that served as DeKalb County’s first public school for African American children.

Built by Arabia Mountain quarry workers in a grassroots effort in the 1930s, the Bruce Street School served a generation of Black school children and became a fixture in the African American community. Famous graduates include Lithonia’s first female and first Black mayor Marcia Glenn Hunter (who also serves as Board Chair of the Arabia Alliance). The building was abandoned upon integration, and many former students, some of which never got to graduate, are now residents at the East DeKalb at Bruce Street Senior Center, which sits right beside the ruins. The Arabia Alliance and its local partners have been working with Bruce Street School alum and other community members to transform the ruins into an outdoor museum with an amphitheater, memory garden and historical interpretation about Bruce Street and Black education in the Jim Crow South.

Since March of last year, the Arabia Alliance has been running a Capital Campaign Fundraiser to help pay for the revitalization project. To that point, the Alliance sold 75 tickets to its Bruce Street School Brunch Gala and raised nearly $7,500 in ticket sales and donations, with more pledges still coming in! The midday gala featured a sumptuous Southern-style brunch curated by Meraki Soul, champagne and signature mimosas, an interpretative educational exhibit with Bruce Street School artifacts as well as upbeat live music and speeches from DeKalb County VIP and those who attended and remembered the old stone schoolhouse! Enjoy this photo recap of our inaugural Brunch Gala!

Pins, stickers and cards were up for grabs for attendees as they entered.

The senior center’s halls were lined with decorations and interpretative historic material about the Bruce Street School as well as the history of segregation and Black education in Georgia.

Champagne was served topped with edible flower petals.

The seniors’ entry was greeted by a performance of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” by singer Joe Gable.

The school’s original bell, discovered within the ruins, was on display at the event.

Local student Anaya Miller reads “I Am Bruce Street”, a poem written specially for the event, to the audience. (Photo by David Naugle, R&D Studios)

Tiny Foster & Dem Saints, a local quartet group based in Atlanta, performed several gospel-inspired songs! (Photo by David Naugle, R&D Studios)

Arabia Alliance Executive Director Revonda Cosby announces the Marcia Glenn Hunter Award for Leadership and the Allene S. Harper Award for Community Service. From left to right: Allene Harper, Revonda Cosby, Marcia Glenn Hunter and Demetrius McCoy, Chief of Staff of DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. (Photo by David Naugle, R&D Studios)

Millicent St. Clair made a magnificent Mistress of Ceremonies at the gala!

The ballroom was filled with Bruce Street School alum, Arabia Alliance staff and partners, senior center residents and employees, journalists and community members who came in to enjoy the experience!

The Bruce Street School Brunch Gala will become a new signature fundraiser for the Arabia Alliance, so be on the lookout for next year’s event. And if you would like to donate to the Bruce Street School revitalization then please visit here!